Adult Kidney Transplantation

Kidney transplantation occurs when a healthy kidney, donated from a living or deceased donor, replaces a diseased or dying kidney in a recipient’s abdomen. When your kidneys lose this ability to filter, harmful levels of waste accumulate in your body. A successful kidney transplant eliminates the need for dialysis. Additionally, the transplanted kidney will regulate hormones and produce urine which results in heightened energy, and little to no diet and fluid restrictions. Most patients will experience a better quality of life after a kidney transplant. However, transplant also involves a lifelong dependence on drugs to keep the new kidney healthy. Some of these drugs can have side effects.

There are several indications that a new kidney may be needed in adults.

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Glomerulonephritis

In adults, a kidney transplant is placed in the pelvis and attached to the blood vessels going to the leg (usually the external iliac vessels).

There are two main types of kidney transplants: Living donor transplant and deceased donor transplant.

Living Donor Transplant

This occurs when a kidney is donated by a living person. This person can be a blood relative or non-blood relative, a close friend, or even an altruistic donor.

Some quick facts about living donation:

  • Living donation is the best option for transplant. It offers the best quality kidney in the shortest possible time.
  • The living donor must have a complete evaluation to assess any risk factors. Not all willing donors are able to donate. This evaluation is covered primarily by the recipient’s insurance.
  • Even though someone wants to donate a kidney, he or she may not be able to because of health, emotional, or social reasons.

Deceased Donor Transplant

This occurs when a kidney that is taken from a person who has just died and whose family chooses to donate. If you do not have a living donor, your name will be placed on the national waiting list for a deceased donor kidney.

A nationwide system for donating kidneys balances the needs of patients who have waited a long time, and the goal of transplanting a kidney that is well matched with the patient.

The wait for a deceased donor kidney is usually much longer than the wait for a living donor kidney.