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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

What Really Happens in a Kidney Transplant?

A kidney transplant is the transfer of a healthy kidney from an individual into the body of another who has little or no kidney function.

The major role played by the kidney is to filter out waste products from the blood and convert them to wee. If the kidneys lose this ability, waste products start accumulating, which is potentially life-threatening.

This loss of kidney function is referred to as end-stage chronic kidney disease or kidney failure and is the most common reason for undergoing a kidney transplant.

Most people who need a kidney transplant can undergo one, regardless of their age, taking into account:

  1. They are well enough to withstand post-effects of the surgery

  2. The transplant is going to have a good chance of success

  3. The person is willing to accept the treatments required after the transplant –and attending regular follow-up appointments

People who require a kidney transplant, but don’t have a suitable living donor, usually have to wait for long until a suitable deceased donor kidney becomes available.

The transplant procedure must be carried out as quickly as possible for the transplant to have the maximum chance of success.

After the medical team has confirmed the kidney is fit, you will be given the general anesthetic and taken to the operating theatre.

The Operation

The kidney transplant procedure involves 3 major steps:

  1. An incision is made in your lower abdomen, through which the donated kidney is put into place. Your kidneys are usually left where they are unless they are causing problems such as pain or infection.

  2. Surrounding blood vessels are attached to the blood vessels of the donated kidney. This is to provide the donated kidney with the blood supply needed to function properly.

  3. The tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder, the ureter, of the donated kidney is connected to your bladder.

Caption: Doctors performing kidney surgery Credits:       Alt tags: Kidney surgery

A small plastic tube called a stent is inserted into the ureter to ensure a good flow of urine initially. This is usually removed 6 to 12 weeks later during a minor procedure known as a cystoscopy.

When the kidney is properly in place, the incision in your abdomen will be closed with surgical staples or stitches.

Although the procedure may sound very simple and straightforward, it is a very demanding and complex surgery that takes a lot of time to complete.

After The Operation

Once you have recovered from the effects of the anesthetic, you will likely feel some pain at the site of the incision. Painkillers are usually provided.

After the operation, you will immediately begin treatment with medication that is designed to prevent your immune system from rejecting the new kidney.

Close monitoring

Caption: Doctor monitoring the patient post-transplant surgery                                                  Credits: Flickr                               Alt tags: Close monitoring

Transplanted kidneys begin functioning immediately, especially if they come from a living donor, although sometimes they may take a few days or weeks to function properly. In this case, you will require dialysis during this period.

Most patients are discharged in about a week, but you will need to attend frequent appointments at the center, so your kidney function can be assessed and tests can be done to check how well your medications are working.

For the first month after the surgery, 2 to 3 appointments a week are necessary. However, over time, your appointments will become lesser.

After a year, as long as you do not have any serious issues, you may only have to attend the center once every 4 to 6 months.

After the surgery, you will be able to return to work and other daily chores within a few months, provided you make good progress.

  Caption: JIPMER one of the top medical institution of India Credits: Wikipedia

The success rate for kidney transplants in India stands at 85-90%.

The hospitals in India are built to world-class standards and can take into account a large number of people.

Wait Time For A Kidney Transplant

India follows a strict procedure for organ transplants. International patients have to travel with a kidney donor to India, who must be a blood relative or spouse.

As such, the wait time for scheduling a kidney transplant surgery cannot be promised, as it may vary depending on the condition of the patient.

Once the patient has undergone a successful kidney transplant, the doctors monitor their condition in the hospital for a few days.

Post which, they will advise the patient to discharge from the hospital while closely monitoring for the next few weeks.

Once the doctors are fully satisfied with the progress, they will let you know whether it is safe enough to travel back.

Cost for Kidney Transplantation in India

When it comes to any surgery or transplant, the costs can sky-rocket depending upon the availability of organs and donors.

However, in India, the costs are almost one-third of what it generally costs in the US and Europe, with the same or better treatment quality.

The total kidney transplant cost in India ranges between USD 15,000 to 25,000 including the cost of a stay, food, etc.

As of now, kidney transplant costs between Rs. 5-6 Lakh in private hospitals. And post-treatment, the monthly cost comes up to Rs. 15,000 with the lifelong medicines costing approximately Rs. 10,000 per month.

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