Having a kidney transplant

Illustration of kidneys inside human body
Click here to see how a kidney is transplantedSee animation

Over 3,000 kidney transplants are performed in the UK every year and many more could be performed if more kidneys were available. The success rate for kidney transplants is excellent and higher than for other kinds of organ transplants.

The transplant kidney provides enough kidney function; remember some people are born with only one kidney and do not develop problems. After a successful transplant, there is no need for dialysis, provided the transplant continues to work well.

Patients who have a successful transplant should feel better and have more energy. There may still be a need to watch your diet to protect the kidney.

You will need to speak to your doctor to find out if you are medically suitable for a transplant (many patients are). If you wish to go ahead, you will be put on the waiting list for a donor kidney. In the UK, patients are on the waiting list for an average of two to three years before a suitable kidney becomes available.

If a transplant fails, you can go back to dialysis or have another transplant. Even a successful transplant may not last forever. You have to take a range of medication daily to prevent rejection of the new kidney.

Having a kidney transplant after years of chronic kidney failure was the most wonderful thing to happen to me...

To decide whether you wish to have a transplant, you need to know exactly what is involved. The Transplant Co-ordinator at your Unit will give you more details about transplants - the preparations you need to make, what the operation will involve, the medication needed afterwards, et cetera - and answer any questions you have.

The first thing most patients want after a transplant in my experience, is a cup of coffee followed by a curry or a Chinese take-away...

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