Our kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that act as filters essential in our body’s urinary system. Aside from promoting fluid and electrolyte balance, they regulate the blood pressure (via maintaining water and salt balance) and extract waste from the bloodstream to form urine. The kidneys are also responsible for reabsorption of glucose, amino acids and water while producing the hormones that regulate itself and the body. They are located in the upper abdominal cavity, opposite each other on both sides of the spine.
If our kidneys are damaged, they may still function to produce urine but become less efficient at removing waste products from the bloodstream. Instead, these metabolic wastes continue to circulate and accumulate in the blood, in turn causing complications. Then gradually, kidney failure begins.
Every individual has two kidney organs and when kidney failure happens, it is possible that only one kidney is transplanted to replace the function of two failed kidneys. A person can still function and survive with one functioning kidney.
What is a Kidney Transplant?
A kidney transplant is a type of surgical procedure performed to replace a damaged kidney with a functioning kidney from another human being. The kidney may come from unrelated individuals and family members (living organ donor) or from a deceased organ donor.
Who Can Benefit From A Kidney Transplant?
A kidney transplant may be performed to patients who are experiencing end stage renal disease (ESRD), a type of kidney failure that requires dialysis (thru the aid of a machine, the process removes substances from the blood and other wastes). Here are some diseases of the kidneys that may result to ESRD, in turn requiring a kidney transplant. They are:
How is a Kidney Transplant performed?
Initial assessment such as laboratory tests is performed to determine if the patient (receiver) does not have medical conditions that might be a concern during his transplant procedure. Other laboratory tests will be carried out to verify if the kidney to be transplanted is suitable to the patient.
Once it is suitable for transplant, the procedure will be performed as soon as possible to ensure success. The patient is then placed in general anaesthesia to prevent pain, anxiety and discomfort during the surgical procedure. The procedure usually takes 3-5 hours to complete.
It has three main stages:
First Stage: The surgeon makes an incision (cut) in the lower abdomen (or tummy), where the donated kidney is intended to be placed. The patient’s own kidneys are left intact and are only removed if they are causing infection or pain.
Second Stage: The blood vessels of the donated kidney are intricately attached to the blood vessels of the patient’s lower abdomen, to provide the newly transplanted kidney the blood supply it needs to function in a new body.
Third Stage: Lastly, the ureter (tube that carries urine) of the transplanted kidney is connected to the patient’s bladder. A stent (small plastic tube) is inserted into the ureter to ensure a good flow of urine. The stent will be later removed after 6 to 10 weeks thru a cystoscopy, a minor procedure. When the new kidney is already in place, the incision made in the patient’s abdomen will be sutured (closed) thru stitches, surgical staples or surgical glue.
After the transplant:
After the anaesthetic wears off, the patient will feel pain at the incision site. Painkillers are prescribed to provide comfort. After the operation, it is recommended that the patient will immediately begin treatment with an immunosuppressant, a type of medication that works to prevent the immune system from rejecting the new, transplanted kidney.
If you received a kidney from a deceased donor, the kidney begins to work after surgery whist from a living donor; it will start to work right away. Yet, donated kidneys may take up to 6 weeks before it starts working correctly. If this is your situation, you might be recommended to undergo dialysis.
Most patients can be discharged about 7 to 10 days after operation. After the transplant, it is recommended that a patient anticipate frequent check-ups to ensure that the donated kidneys are functioning well and to assess if the prescribed immunosuppressants are working. A few months after the surgery, you may resume your normal activities and be able to return to work. After a year, there are check-ups once every 2 or 3 months.
How Much Does Kidney Transplantation Cost?
In the US alone, it may cost USD $263,000 for one kidney. This includes the kidney procurement, physician/surgeon, hospital accommodation, diagnostics, follow-up care and medications.
In India, for patients who opt for a Single Room in a medical facility will cost them USD $13,500 while if they twin share, the cost is only USD $11,500 USD. In Turkey, the cost is USD $30,000 while in Jordan, it is USD $20,000. In other countries like Mexico, a kidney transplant will cost you $47,000, while in in Philippines, it will be around USD $24,000.
The medical facilities that offer the procedure are world-class healthcare facilities that use modern and high-tech amenities, whose surgeons are experienced and highly trained, qualified by accrediting bodies within their home countries or by Joint Commission International.
Who Performs Kidney Transplants?
Surgeons who have completed general surgery training are eligible for performing the kidney transplant. These board certified surgeons should belong to the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (in the US) or accredited in similar organization boards in the practitioner’s country of origin. Since you will be availing the procedure away from your home country, always verify the license of the surgeon who will be performing your kidney transplant.
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