Ask the Doctor
Questions about kidney disease? Risk factors? Signs and symptoms? Are you concerned about yourself, a friend or family member? Ask Dr. Spry.
Transplantation can allow people to live healthy and happy lives. However, transplant is not the best treatment option for everyone. Below you will find information to help you along your journey of deciding if a transplant is right for you.
An organ transplant is an operation that places a healthy organ from another person into your body. The organ can come from someone who has died (a deceased donor) and has signed their state's donor registry or told their family of their wishes to become a donor. Kidney, kidney-pancreas, pancreas, heart, heart-lung, lung, liver, intestine are all organs able to be transplanted from a deceased donor.
Kidneys may also come from a living donor. This person may be a relative, spouse, friend, or even someone who wishes to donate a kidney to anyone in need of a transplant. Living donors can also donate part of a lung, liver, intestine or pancreas, but these types of surgeries are not as common as living kidney donation. Visit our site on living donation for more information.
Transplant is a treatment option, not a cure, but you can live a long, productive life if you a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise and knowing your individual limitations.
Before you receive a transplant, it is necessary to undergo a series of medical tests to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for transplant. You must be cancer-free and have no active infections.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning if they are a candidate for an organ transplant, consult the transplant team at your local transplant center (hospital that performs transplants). Your nephrologist or dialysis unit can help you find a transplant center. Ask the center's transplant team about the advantages of receiving a transplant as well as the possible risks and complications.
Details of the transplant operation would be discussed at length by your transplant team. Recovery time depends on the individual. Immunosuppressive drugs are needed so that your body doesn't reject the new organ. While these drugs are typically taken for as long as you have a transplant, they may change in type or dosage as decided by your doctor.
There are many people on your transplant care team, contributing to your care; however, the most important person on your transplant team is you. You need to take care of yourself and follow your doctors instructions. Educate yourself, speak up when something is wrong, share your concerns, and surround yourself with supportive friends and family.
The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) keeps track of all transplants performed in the United States. They have statistics on the number of transplants, success rates per transplant center, the number of living versus deceased donors, and everything else you may want to know about transplant in the U.S. The OPTN is a contract through the federal government, awarded to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) who manages the organ transplant system in the United States.
Transplant Living is a patient-centered web site of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and has everything from basic organ information to the allocation process of how organs are recovered and transplanted.
Please visit the Transplantation section of our A to Z Health Guide for NKF's articles and publications.
Also visit our Patient and Family Resources page for additional resources.