Medical Encyclopedia


Medical Encyclopedia

Other encyclopedia topics:  A-Ag  Ah-Ap  Aq-Az  B-Bk  Bl-Bz  C-Cg  Ch-Co  Cp-Cz  D-Di  Dj-Dz  E-Ep  Eq-Ez  F  G  H-Hf  Hg-Hz  I-In  Io-Iz  J  K  L-Ln  Lo-Lz  M-Mf  Mg-Mz  N  O  P-Pl  Pm-Pz  Q  R  S-Sh  Si-Sp  Sq-Sz  T-Tn  To-Tz  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  0-9 

Kidney transplant

Contents of this page:


Kidney anatomy
Kidney anatomy
Kidney - blood and urine flow
Kidney - blood and urine flow
Kidney transplant - series
Kidney transplant - series

Alternative Names    Return to top

Renal transplant; Transplant - kidney

Definition    Return to top

A kidney transplant is surgery to place a healthy kidney into a person with kidney failure.

Description    Return to top

Kidney transplants are one of the most common transplant operations in the United States.

A donated kidney is needed to perform a kidney transplant.

The donated kidney may be from:

People with chronic kidney disease can receive lifesaving dialysis until a donated kidney becomes available. The healthy kidney is transported in cool salt water (saline) that preserves the organ for up to 48 hours. This gives the health care providers time to perform tests that match the donor's and recipient's blood and tissue before the operation.


If you are donating a kidney, you will be placed under general anesthesia before surgery. This means you will be asleep and pain-free. The surgeon makes a cut in the side of your abdomen, removes the proper kidney, and then closes the wound. The procedure used to require a long surgical cut. However, today surgeons can use a short surgical cut (mini-nephrectomy) or laparoscopic techniques.


People receiving a kidney transplant are given general anesthesia before surgery. The surgeon makes a cut in the lower belly area and stitches the new kidney into place. The wound is then closed.

Why the Procedure is Performed    Return to top

A kidney transplant may be recommended if you have kidney failure caused by:

A kidney transplant alone may NOT be recommended if you have:

Risks    Return to top

The risks for any anesthesia are:

The risks for any surgery are: Other risks include:

After the Procedure    Return to top

Kidney transplants generally offer the best outlook for patients with end-stage kidney disease. Kidneys from living related donors do better than from donors who have died. (If you donate a kidney, you can usually live safely without complications with your one remaining kidney.)

People who receive a transplanted kidney may reject the new organ. This means that their immune system sees the new kidney as a foreign substance and tries to destroy it.

In order to avoid rejection, almost all kidney transplant recipients must take medicines that suppress their immune response for the rest of their life. This is called immunosuppressive therapy. While the treatment helps prevent organ rejection, it also puts patients at a higher risk of infection and cancer. If you take this medicine, you need to be regularly screened for cancer. The medicines may also cause high blood pressure and high cholesterol and increase the risk of diabetes.

A successful kidney transplant requires close follow-up with your doctor and always taking your medicine as directed.

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

The recovery period is 4 - 6 weeks for people who donate a kidney. If you've done so, you should avoid heavy activity during this time. Your doctor removes the stitches after a week or so.

If you received a donated kidney, you will need to stay in the hospital for about a week. Afterwards, you will need close follow-up by a doctor and regular blood tests.

Update Date: 2/7/2008

Updated by: Parul Patel, MD, Private Practice specializing in Nephrology and Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation, Affiliated with California Pacific Medical Center, Department of Transplantation, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M. Logo

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2009, A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.