Renal Transplant Procedure: Road to recovery & lifestyle changes

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kidney

An overview: Renal transplant procedure

A renal transplant, more commonly referred to as a kidney transplant, is the procedure of surgically replacing a dysfunctional kidney with a healthy one, which is taken from a living or deceased donor.

The surgery is required when a person is unable to utilize the renal system of his/her body. As a result of this, there is unfiltered waste building up in the body, which can cause illness and even result in something fatal.

What to expect before and after a renal transplant? 

The renal transplant procedure is done when a patient goes through kidney failure. To say a kidney has failed or a transplant is required, it needs to lose 90% of its working ability. Several diseases can cause kidney failure; they mostly occur due to poor style of living. Some of them are:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Polycystic kidney disease  
  • Defect in the urinary tract

The transplant is a surgical procedure, and there are before, during, and after procedures followed:

Before:

Before anything is done, a donor needs to be found. The donor could be living or deceased, related, or unrelated to the patient. It is the job of the medical team to determine whether the doner has compatibility with the patient or not. This is done by:

  • Blood Typing
  • Tissue Typing
  • And Crossmatch

During:

This surgery is performed under general anaesthesia to keep the patient unconscious. The surgeons have to complete the procedure carefully by making an incision in the lower abdomen, where they have to place the new kidney. Unless the old kidneys cause a problem, they are kept in their place. The blood vessels are attached, and the ureter of the new organ is linked to the patient’s bladder.

After:

Once the surgery is done, one must keep a few things in mind:

  • Hospital rest of days or weeks is mandatory; during this time, the patient will be monitored and helped to start the recovery process.
  • Even after getting discharged, the patient needs to visit the doctor regularly to ensure proper recovery and wellbeing.
  • The person after the transplant is needed to take medication for the rest of his/her life. These reduce the risk of any further complications.

Risks:

Even after advancement in medical science and research, the transplant comes with risks. They are:

  • Reaction to anaesthesia
  • Blood clots and Internal bleeding
  • Infection and ureter blockage
  • Rejection of the donated kidney 
  • Failure of the donated kidney

Post-surgery: Road to recovery 

After the surgery, the patient needs to be treated with the utmost care. Several days, or weeks worth of monitoring is done. The rehabilitation and post-surgery care for transplant is a long process, which includes: 

  • It could take days or weeks before the new kidney starts functioning. The donated kidney will function faster if the donor is related or living, it won’t be at the same pace for unrelated and deceased cases.
  • The healing process is painful, and there is always a risk of rejection. Hence, medications like immunosuppressant drugs are to be taken in a disciplinary routine to prevent rejection.
  • Monitoring the symptoms of rejections is necessary, these include
    1. Pain
    2. Swelling
    3. Flu etc.
  • Only doctors advised physical activities are to be followed.
  • The diet and nutrition need of the patient is also to be kept in check; these include:
    1. Fresh fruits and vegetables, server 5 times a day
    2. Fibrous diet
    3. Phosphorus and calcium-rich food, ideally dairy is to be consumed
    4. Diet with less fat and salt
    5. Staying hydrated  

Renal Transplant FAQs

A lot of questions that come to one’s mind about renal or kidney transplant; some of these are:

How long does the surgery take? What are the dietary restrictions before the surgery?

The transplant surgery usually takes up to two to three hours. Any kind of solid or liquid food is to be avoided the day before the transplant. The medical staff will provide guidelines about the diet and other things before surgery. 

What are the expenses that come with a kidney transplant?

In India, it costs around 5-6 lakhs for the surgery; the post-surgery cost includes aftercare and immunosuppressant drugs; these cost 15,000 and 10,000 a month, respectively.

What is the success rate?

India holds one of the highest success rates for renal transplant, which is around 90% currently. However, different factors affect the success rate of the surgery; these include:

    1. Hospital 
    2. Surgical and post-operative team
    3. Donor compatibility
    4. Post-surgical infection

What is the usual life expectancy of a person after a transplant?

The life expectancy varies according to the age at which the surgery took place:

    1. The age group of 40 have an expectancy of 22-years post-surgery
    2. It decreases to 16 years for the age group of 50 
    3. And it is 11.5 years for people in their 60s

Renal transplant procedure is not a life-threatening surgery; doctor’s guidelines are followed regarding recovery. It is a never-ending process, and after the surgery, the patient has to be more careful and aware of the condition his/her body is in to ensure a healthy and happy post-surgery life. 

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