What is a kidney transplant?
A kidney transplant is surgery to give you a healthy kidney from another person. The new kidney may come from someone you know. Or it may come from a stranger or a person who has died.
Before you have a transplant, you may need to have tests to see how well the donor kidney matches your tissue type and blood type.
To do the surgery, the doctor makes a cut in your lower belly. This cut is called an incision. The doctor places the donated kidney in your lower belly. Your own kidneys are not taken out unless they're causing problems. The doctor then connects the blood vessels of the new kidney to your blood vessels. The doctor also connects the ureter of the new kidney to your bladder. (A ureter is the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.) Then the doctor closes the incision with stitches or staples. The incision will leave a scar that will fade with time.
You need only one healthy kidney to live. The new kidney can do the work that your own kidneys can't do. It will remove waste from your blood. And it will balance your body's fluids and chemicals. Your new kidney may start to work very soon after surgery. Or it may not start to work well for a few weeks. If your kidney doesn't start to work right away, you will need to have dialysis until the new kidney can take over.
You will probably spend 5 to 10 days in the hospital. The doctor will remove the stitches or staples about 1 to 3 weeks after surgery.
Most people need to take about 4 weeks off from work. But it depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
How do you prepare for surgery?
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
Preparing for surgery
- Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
- Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
- If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
- Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
- Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
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