Q. What are the two kinds of transplants? 

Ans. Kidneys for transplant may come from a person who has died (a deceased donor), or from a healthy living person, like a family member or a friend who offers to donate a kidney (a living donor).

Q. Who cannot get a kidney transplant? 

Ans.  Many patients assume they are too old for transplant but if you are otherwise healthy, age is not a factor in determining your transplant eligibility. However, there are some other factors that prevent patients from getting a kidney transplant:

  • Current life expectancy of less than 5 years
  • Recent cancer (other than most skin cancers)
  • Uncorrectable heart disease
  • Untreatable psychiatric illness
  • Missing dialysis appointments or signing off the machine early
  • Active substance abuse (alcohol or drugs)
  • Lack of health insurance or Medicare/Medicaid coverage

You and your transplant doctor will discuss your eligibility during the transplant evaluation process.

Q. When is the best time to get a transplant? 

Ans. In general, the sooner you get a kidney transplant, the better. The transplant team and your nephrologists will determine the best time for you.

Q. What medications will I have to take afterwards? 

Ans. Anti-rejection medications are taken as long as you have your transplanted kidney.  

Following the transplant, patients usually take:

  • Three types of medication to prevent kidney rejection
  • Decreased doses of medications over time
  • Medications for other health issues (blood pressure, insulin, etc.)

Q. What happens during transplant surgery? 

Ans. Shortly before going into surgery, medicine is given to the patients to help them relax. A general anaesthetic is then given. The donor and recipient are in adjacent operating rooms. The transplant surgeon removes the kidney from the donor and prepares it for transplant into the recipient. There, the surgeon connects the renal artery and vein of the new kidney to the recipient’s artery and vein. This creates blood flow through the kidney, which makes urine. The ureter, or tube coming down from the donor's kidney, is sewn into the bladder. Usually, the new kidney will start working right away. Sometimes, it takes several days for the donor kidney to “wake up.”

Q. How long will I be in the hospital?

Ans. Patients typically spend three to seven days in the hospital following kidney transplant surgery.

Q. What risks are there for a kidney patient? 

Ans. Death from surgery: less than 1%, same as any major surgery; surgical complications: infection, fever, bleeding, blood clots; kidney failure in the first year (5-10 Percent ).

Q. How successful are kidney transplant surgeries? 

Ans. Most transplanted kidneys start working immediately, but some start working slowly and you may need dialysis for one to three weeks after surgery. Nationally, 1–2 % of transplants fail immediately, and 25% of patients on average in the nation require dialysis after surgery.

Q. What would happen if my kidney transplant didn’t work? Would I die? 

Ans. No. If the transplant doesn’t work, you can:

  • Start or resume dialysis
  • Pursue another transplant

Q. What can patients do if they want a transplant but don’t have a living donor? 

Ans. Patients who do not have a living donor can be registered for Cadaveric /deceased donor transplant. Then NOTTO decides according to the waiting list.

Q. How long is the average wait for a kidney on the waiting list? 

Ans. Most patients wait for three to five years for a kidney from the deceased donor waiting list. In India, cadaveric organ donation and transplant is in very slow pace. Sometimes a matching kidney is never found. If you want to get a kidney from a deceased donor, the most important thing to do is to get on the list right away to begin gaining time.

Q. Is there a difference between having a living or deceased donor transplant? 

Ans. Yes. Living donor transplants last longer than deceased donor transplants because a living donor kidney is removed from a healthy donor in the operating room and transplanted right away. Living donor transplants last on average for 15-20 years and deceased donor transplants last for 10-15 years. Some transplants have been known to last much longer.

Q. Which kind of transplant happens faster? 

Ans. If a living donor is available, a living donor transplant happens faster, often within one year. With a deceased donor transplant, most patients have to wait 3-5 years until a kidney is available from the list. 

Q. Can a person live longer with a transplant compared to staying on dialysis? 

Ans. Yes. Patients who have a transplant generally live longer than patients who stay on dialysis. The transplanted kidney works 24 hours a day to remove 50-85% of the total waste your body generates.  Dialysis on the other hand only removes 15% of total waste and only when on the dialysis machine.

Q. How long does a transplanted kidney last? 

Ans. Kidney transplants are very successful with more than 95% of kidney transplants done at our centre still working after one year. Living donor transplants last on average for 15-20 years and deceased donor transplants last for 10-15 years. If a transplant fails, a patient can begin or return to dialysis and/or pursue another transplant.

Q. How does a person’s quality of life change if they get a transplant? 

Ans. Most patients say that having a kidney transplant improves the quality of their lives. Patients say that they feel better and have more energy to spend time with their family, do their hobbies, travel and go back to work. Patients also say they have more time since they do not have to spend hours in treatment with dialysis each week. They are also very satisfied that renal dietary restrictions are removed once they are transplanted.