By: Dr. Cesar Gonzalez, Transplantologist.
Before beginning with the benefits of kidney transplantation, it is important to discuss some of the most important functions of kidneys.
Kidneys filter the blood and remove waste products of metabolism segregated in the urine, which is then transported to the bladder for the body to remove. There are various diseases that can affect kidneys. The main are: Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension. If kidneys do not function properly, waste is not removed from the blood. If this situation continues, you will feel quite sick and may eventually lose your life. Other functions of kidneys are: Regulating blood pressure through hormone production, when they fail it is common that the patient has high blood pressure, just as the kidneys produce a hormone that is responsible for the production of red blood cells in patients with renal impairment where Anemia is often present. Another function of kidneys is regulating fluids in the body, damaged liquid will accumulate in the body and is clinically manifested by swelling of legs, eyelids, and in advanced situations it can accumulate fluid in lungs and heart, this is something very serious. There are other functions of kidneys but these are the most important.
Kidney transplantation is the treatment of choice for most patients with terminal renal failure, it involves placing a healthy kidney in patients whose kidneys have stopped working as they should. The main indication is the significant improvement in quality of life. Current evidence has shown that renal transplantation also relates to be an increased survival of these patients. A good reference to the long- term kidney transplant consists of the periodic report from US Transplant Network (UNOS). In a recent report that included more than 80,000 transplant patients overall graft survival at 1 and 5 years was 98 and 90% for recipients of a living donor and 95 to 85% of a deceased donor to recipients of a cadaveric donor (OPTN / SRTR, annual Report 2015).
Usually the diseased kidneys are not removed unless they have many infected cysts, or a giant kidney with multiple cysts and there is no space to place the new kidney, high blood pressure is difficult to control by narrowing the renal artery, joining vessels of the renal graft leg vessels and binding of urinary tract to the bladder is performed.
Prior to transplantation laboratory studies are required, cabinet, medical assessments by different specialists like a cardiologist, a psychologist, an urologist , a dentist, an otolaryngologist, a gynecologist and an ophthalmologist to rule out infections, cancer, cardiac risk and if no objection is analyzed by the medical group involved in transplantation, they proceed with the surgery.
The risks that may occur are:
- In a small percentage up to 5% may have surgical complications such as: bleeding, leakage of urine, lymph leakage, wound infection, and hernias. With new techniques these are unlikely to occur. 2. All patients receiving a kidney must take drugs to prevent transplant rejection (immunosuppression). You will need to take these drugs for as long as you have the transplant (the rest of your life). 3. There is the possibility of a transplanted kidney rejection which can occur in 3%, it is less common though, due to the advent of immunosuppressive drugs and innovative studies prior to transplantation compatibility.
- After a successful transplant, you will avoid the need of dialysis. Many patients whose kidney transplants were successful claim that they enjoy a better quality of life —feeling like being born again—. In addition, there is evidence that a successful kidney transplant prolongs the life of most patients with ESRD, if compared to those patients on dialysis.
- A kidney transplant can increase blood count and energy level. It can also improve bone strength, growth and appetite. In addition, you may need less dietary restrictions.
- After the transplant you can return to work, go back to school, and have a social and productive life without being dependent on a machine to cleanse your body of toxins. You can play sports, spend time with family, and have a new opportunity to enjoy a healthy living.