Kidney transplant

A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure to place a kidney from a live or deceased donor into a person whose kidneys no longer function properly.

Your kidneys remove excess fluid and waste from your blood. When your kidneys lose their filtering ability, dangerous levels of fluid and waste accumulate in your body — a condition known as kidney failure or end-stage kidney disease. A kidney transplant is often the best treatment for kidney failure.

Only one donated kidney is needed to replace two failed kidneys, making living-donor kidney transplantation an option. If a compatible living donor isn't available for a kidney transplant, your name may be placed on a kidney transplant waiting list to receive a kidney from a deceased donor. The wait is usually a few years.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

A kidney transplant is used to treat kidney failure (end-stage kidney disease), a condition in which your kidneys can function at only a fraction of normal capacity. People with end-stage kidney disease need either to have waste removed from their bloodstream (dialysis) or a kidney transplant to stay alive.

Common causes of end-stage kidney disease include:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic, uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Chronic glomerulonephritis — an inflammation and eventual scarring of the tiny filters within your kidneys (glomeruli)
  • Polycystic kidney disease

Sometimes kidney disease can be managed with diet, medication and treatment for the underlying cause. If despite these steps your kidneys still can't filter your blood adequately, you might be a candidate for a kidney transplant.

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