Kidney Transplant – All You Need To Know About the Procedure

Kidney Transplant Surgery


Over the past two decades the merger of medicine and technology has allowed physicians to better diagnose and treat their patients as in comparison to the beginning of the professional practice of medicine. Continuous development of technology in the medical field has helped save countless lives, and the innovations have played a crucial role in sustaining life as well as improve the overall quality of life. Of all the advancement in medical technology, organ transplant has been the most challenging and complex area of modern medicine which has seen great success in recent years.

Heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, intestine, and thymus are the organs which can be transplanted from either a live donor or a patient who has been pronounced brain dead. In fact, medical technology saw a very big leap into the future when the first face transplant was conducted in 2005 in France, where the face of a cadaver was transplanted onto Isabelle Dinoire’s original face, which had been mauled by her dog. The concept of Kidney Transplant was first mentioned in a paper by American medical researcher Simon Flexner in 1907. While the procedure was first conducted in 1933, it was in 1950 when a successful transplant could be performed. In this article  we give you all the information you need to have regarding Kidney Transplant.

What Is Kidney Transplant?

In layman terms, as we all know, Kidneys help in the removal of waste products of metabolism and are essential for the functioning of a human body as they also are also involved in regulating blood pressure, electrolyte balance, and red blood cell production in the body. Kidney failure, also known as Renal failure, is a condition when the kidneys lose the ability to perform the function of removing waste from the body. While acute kidney injury is a condition which is often reversible with adequate treatment, chronic kidney disease results in complete kidney failure and the only treatment options available may be dialysis or transplant. A kidney transplant is required when 90% of kidney fails to perform its function. A kidney transplant or renal transplant is a surgical procedure to place a healthy kidney from a person living or deceased into a person whose kidney no longer works.

Types of Kidney Transplants

A kidney transplant may be from a living donor or a deceased donation.

Living Donation

  • Since a human being requires only one kidney to survive, any individual, preferably a close relative, whose blood group and tissue type matches (determined by a test called HLA matching) with the recipient can donate a kidney.
  • HLA stands for human leukocyte antigen and this is a genetic marker located on the surface of the white blood cells.
  • A higher number of matching antigens between the donor and the recipient ensures a more successful transplant.
  • When the blood group and tissue type match, the chances of the recipient’s body rejecting the new kidney are lesser.

Deceased donation or Cadaveric donation

When the kidney of an already deceased person is transplanted into the recipient it is known as Deceased Donation.

  • In this type of transplant blood group and antigen matching in not done.
  • The chances of kidney rejection is higher since the body perceives the new kidney as a foreign object and mounts an immune attack against it.
  • Long-term immunity suppressing drugs (called immunosuppressants) are administered to stop the body from rejecting the kidney in such transplants.


The kidney transplant operation involves surgically opening the lower part of the abdomen to place the new kidney inside.

  • The kidney is placed into the right or left side of the lower abdomen, just above the front of the hip bone.
  • The blood vessels of the new kidney are connected to the existing blood vessel.
  • The urethra (urine tube) is then connected to the bladder.
  • The surgical procedure of Kidney Transplant can last for about three to five hours.

Care after Kidney Transplant

The long term success of a kidney transplant depends on the following things:

  • The patient should go for a regular follow up with the transplant team.
  • Medications, especially the immunosuppressants in case the kidney is from a deceased donor should be taken regularly and on time.
  • Follow the recommended schedule for lab tests and clinic visits to make sure that the kidney is working properly.
  • A healthy lifestyle proper diet, exercise, and weight loss if needed is also mandatory.
  • Those who take immunosuppressive medications are at risk of infections and should take care to prevent infections. Good personal hygiene should be maintained and persons with contagious infections, such as flu or chicken pox should be avoided.
  • Vaccinations against infections are important but some vaccines containing live viruses such as the mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccine cannot be used.


Kidney Transplant may come with the following complications:

  • The immunosuppressant medications may cause the herpes simplex infection in the first four weeks and then cytomegalovirus infection. Fungal and bacterial infections are also possible.
  • Long term use of immunosuppressant medications may also lead to the risk of cancers of skin or lymphomas.
  • There may be leaking from or blockage of the tube (ureter) that links the kidney to the bladder
  • Pyelonephrritis or Kidney infection after surgery.
  • Sometimes kidney stones may be transplanted with the donor kidney or may form later in the new kidney. There may lead to blood in urine or hematuria, infections and obstruction.
  • Heart disease like high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc. are few common complications after kidney transplant.

Sushma Swaraj Kidney Transplant

The External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj underwent kidney transplant on Saturday, December 10, 2016 at AIIMS. The organ was harvested from an unrelated living donor, and the AIIMS authorities issued a statement saying that the procedure which lasted for more than 5 hours was successful. She will be kept in the ICU for close monitoring and should be discharged in two to three weeks. The team at MyIndia wishes Sushma Swaraj a quick recovery with none of the complications mentioned above in the article.


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