Providing a New Lease on Life for ESRD Patients

According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 25,000 kidney transplants were performed in the United States in 2022 alone.

For people with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), a kidney transplant offers hope and a fresh start.

Adult children comforting mother in hospital bed

What is a Kidney Transplant?

A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure in which a healthy kidney from a donor, either living or deceased, is surgically placed into a person whose kidneys no longer function properly.

This procedure is typically recommended for individuals whose kidneys have experienced irreversible damage due to conditions such as chronic kidney disease (CKD), kidney failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, genetic disorders, or other severe kidney-related conditions.

Kidney transplants can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with kidney failure, offering them a chance to live without the need for ongoing dialysis treatments.

Kidney Transplant Requirements

Specific criteria must be met to be eligible for a kidney transplant.

Here are some general medical and lifestyle requirements:

Medical Considerations

  1. End-Stage Renal Disease: The individual should have irreversible kidney failure that cannot be treated effectively through other means like medication or dialysis.
  2. Good Overall Health: Apart from kidney issues, the individual should be healthy. This includes having no active infections, cancer, or severe cardiovascular disease. Transplant centers consider the individual’s overall health, and older individuals may require additional evaluations. In 2023, 25% of transplant recipients were over 65, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.
  3. Psychological Evaluation: Candidates need to undergo a psychological evaluation to ensure they can cope with the surgery, recovery, and lifelong commitment to post-transplant care.
  4. Healthy Weight: Being overweight or underweight might affect eligibility for a transplant. Centers often evaluate if the person can maintain a healthy weight post-transplant for improved overall health.

Lifestyle Factors

  1. Post-Surgery Compliance: Candidates must be committed to following post-transplant care plans, including taking medications and attending regular follow-up appointments.
  2. Support System: A strong support system benefits the individual’s recovery. It includes having family or friends to assist during the recovery period.

In general, candidates undergo a series of tests and evaluations to assess their overall health, determine blood type and tissue matching, and identify potential risk factors for transplant surgery.

Kidney transplant criteria may vary slightly depending on the transplant center and individual circumstances. Each candidate is evaluated individually to determine their suitability for a kidney transplant or other kidney treatments.

Doctors preforming surgery

What’s Involved in Kidney Transplant Surgery?

During a kidney transplant, the surgeon places a new kidney in the lower abdomen of the recipient and connects the renal artery, vein, and ureter of the new kidney to the recipient’s blood vessels and bladder. This allows the transplanted kidney to filter waste products and excess bodily fluids, performing the functions the recipient’s failed kidneys could not accomplish.

After a successful transplant, recipients usually experience improved kidney function and often no longer need dialysis.

However, post-transplant, recipients need to take medications to prevent rejection of the new kidney by their immune system. Regular medical follow-ups are essential to monitor the kidney’s function and overall health.

How Much Does a Kidney Transplant Cost?

A kidney transplant can be expensive, and the out-of-pocket cost can vary based on different factors, including:

  • Available insurance coverage
  • The surgery cost
  • Hospital stay
  • Medications to keep the body from rejecting the new kidney
  • Check-ups after the transplant

The total cost can range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. But insurance can often help cover a lot of these expenses. Specialized programs and groups also help people who need financial support.

Don’t let kidney transplant cost worries stop you from pursuing this surgical option. It’s important to talk with your doctors and insurance company to understand how much it might cost and determine the available help.

Life After Kidney Transplant

Life after a kidney transplant brings changes and new routines. It’s when the body adjusts to the new kidney and a different way of living. From medications to taking care of health, this phase marks a fresh start for many.

Explore some of the most common questions that follow a kidney transplant below.

What Does Kidney Transplant Recovery Look Like?

Kidney transplant recovery is when the body gets used to the new kidney.

After the surgery, the initial recovery usually happens in the hospital for about a week or two. However, it takes time for the body to adjust to the new kidney and for the medications to work well.

During this period, gradual improvements happen, and it may take several months for the person to feel completely normal. Regular check-ups and care continue for a long time to ensure the new kidney stays healthy.

Fully healing from a kidney transplant varies for everyone, but it often takes several months to a year or more.

Will I Have a Kidney Transplant Scar?

Yes, it’s common to have a kidney transplant scar after the surgery.

The scar’s size and visibility can vary depending on the surgical technique and individual healing.

The kidney transplant scar is usually located on the lower part of the abdomen or the side. Over time, the scar typically fades but may remain visible. It’s a reminder of the incredible journey and the new chance for a healthier life.

How Long Does a Kidney Transplant Last?

The lifespan of a kidney transplant varies for each person.

A transplanted kidney can function well for about 10 to 15 years or longer.

Factors like the recipient’s overall health, the match between the donor and recipient, and how well the recipient takes care of their health after the transplant can influence how long the kidney lasts.

Some transplants may not last as long, while others can continue functioning for many years, providing the recipient a better quality of life.

Regular medical check-ups and following the healthcare team’s advice help maintain the kidney’s health for as long as possible.

What is the Kidney Transplant Success Rate?

The success rate of a kidney transplant is generally high.

About 90% of kidney transplants from living donors and around 85% from deceased donors are successful within the first year.

However, the success rates can vary based on several factors, including the recipient’s overall health, the donor match, and how well the recipient’s body accepts the new kidney.

With advancements in medical care, the success rates have improved significantly over the years, allowing many individuals to live healthier and longer lives after a kidney transplant.

Learn About the Kidney Transplant Process at Innovative Renal Care

If you or a loved one are living with ESRD, you’re not alone, and we are here to help with life-saving treatment options such as a kidney transplant.

At Innovative Renal Care, our dedicated team strives to support you on your kidney health journey at every step, with over 200 local dialysis clinics for your convenience.

Don’t hesitate to take the next step toward a renewed lease on life. Schedule a consultation today and discover how the kidney transplant process could be the transformative solution you’ve been seeking.

Informed patients are healthier and can more easily adjust to the restrictions associated with having a chronic disease.

“You’ll never find the quality of care that you get at an ARA facility anywhere else. The staff always have your best interest at heart and will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and help however they can. The truth is, I consider them my extended family!” 

Mr. Randal Beatty, University Kidney Center Hikes Lane, Louisville, KY