Frequently Asked Kidney Transplant Questions | Transplantation Surgery | Dartmouth-Hitchcock
Skip to main content
x
Dartmouth-Hitchcock logo
Summer Flowers In This Section

Frequently Asked Kidney Transplant Questions

Why may I need a kidney transplant?
When should I consider a kidney transplant?
Is a kidney transplant the right answer for everyone?
Does blood type matter for kidney transplants?
Will I always have to take medications after the kidney transplant?
Where is the kidney placed?
How long will I be in the hospital?
How often do I have to come back after my kidney transplant?
How long will the transplanted kidney work?
How long will I have to wait for a kidney transplant?
What can I do while waiting for a kidney transplant?

Why may I need a kidney transplant?

When a patient has kidney failure, it causes him or her to feel ill. Over time, waste products and fluid build up in the body. This may result in death if untreated. There are three treatment methods for patients with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). The first is hemodialysis, where blood is passed through a dialysis machine and filtered in the same way as done by functioning kidneys. Another technique is peritoneal dialysis, which works by passing special fluid into the abdomen. Some of the toxic chemicals in the blood pass into the fluid. After a couple of hours the fluid is drained along with the toxins. A kidney transplant is the final means of replacing a failed kidney.

When should I consider a kidney transplant?

Start the transplant evaluation process when you and your nephrologist (kidney specialist) think that your kidney disease will eventually require dialysis. Begin by contacting the Dartmouth-Hitchcock transplant center and scheduling an evaluation. Before your evaluation, we will contact your nephrologist to obtain your medical records. After meeting you and reviewing several important medical tests, the transplant team will determine if you are eligible or not eligible for a kidney transplant.

Is a kidney transplant the right answer for everyone?

A transplant involves an operation, and requires you to take medications to stop your body from rejecting the new kidney. For some people—such as those with serious heart disease—the operation and/or the side effects of the medications are too dangerous. Kidney transplantation is too hazardous for patients with conditions such as active infections and cancer.

Does blood type matter for kidney transplants?

The blood type of the kidney recipient and the person giving the kidney—the donor—must be compatible, just as they must be for a blood transfusion. There are four blood types: A, B, AB, and O.

Recipient Blood Type Donor Blood Type
Type O Type O
Type A Type A or O
Type B Type B or O
Type AB Type O, A, B, AB

Note: Rh (the negative or positive element of blood type) has no effect on compatibility.

Will I always have to take medications after the kidney transplant?

After a transplant, medications will always be needed to stop the body from rejecting the kidney. These drugs are called immunosuppressants. Because the body can reject the kidney at any time, the medications must be taken every day, for as long as the kidney works.

Where is the kidney placed?

During surgery, the kidney is placed in the lower abdomen, either on the right or left side. It is connected to the blood vessels that supply blood to and from the leg. In general, your kidneys are left in place, unless they are have become very enlarged from a condition like polycystic kidney disease, or become a source of infection.

How long will I be in the hospital?

You will be in the hospital for 2-4 days. You may need to stay longer if a problem occurs and further treatment is needed; however, most people can go home without difficulty.

How often do I have to come back after my kidney transplant?

In the first month after the transplant you will return to the hospital twice a week for laboratory tests and a doctor checkup. The second month after your transplant you will come back once a week. You'll come in every month until the sixth month, and then come in once a year. For the rest of your life, you will need to get monthly lab tests done, in order to monitor your medications and check for any potential problems.

How long will the tranplanted kidney work?

On average, a transplanted kidney from a cadaveric (deceased) donor lasts 15 years. Some transplanted kidneys only last a few weeks, while others function normally for 20 years or more. In general, kidneys from living donors last longer than those from cadaveric donors. The key to extending the life of your kidney is taking your medications as prescribed.

How long will I have to wait for a kidney transplant?

Because many things can affect the wait time, it is best to check with your transplant center. Patients who can identify a living donor (who does not need to be a relative) have a significantly reduced time on the waiting list. Dartmouth-Hitchcock has some of the shortest waiting times in New England.

What can I do while waiting for a kidney transplant?

  • Stay as fit as possible
  • Go to all your routine health care visits, including dental checkups, flu shots, EKGs, stress testing, colorectal exams, mammograms and pap smears for women, and prostate exams for men.
  • If you have a blood transfusion while on the transplant waiting list, let your transplant center know immediately.
  • While on the list you will need to submit monthly blood samples. If you are on hemodialysis, your dialysis center can do this for you. If you are not on dialysis we will help you arrange to have this done.
  • Let your transplant center know if you change your address or phone number
  • Let your transplant center know if you have any change in your health status
  • Finally, you should enjoy your life, family and friends. Don't spend your days waiting by the phone!
Contact Us

0