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Transplant could be a good match

Getting a healthy kidney donated from another person is the ideal treatment path for a healthier outlook. Explore this option to see if it’s right for you.

How does a kidney transplant work?

A kidney transplant includes an intensive surgery where a healthy kidney from a donor is inserted to replace the function of your non-functioning kidney. A donor could be:

  • A relative, spouse or friend
  • Someone you don’t know who has volunteered to donate their kidney
  • Someone who has recently passed away

Finding the right donor

Your donor must match your blood and tissue types or your body will reject the new kidney and it will stop working. To ensure this doesn’t happen, your health team will give you an evaluation beforehand that includes:

  • A complete physical exam
  • A review of your health records
  • Confirmation that you take your medications as prescribed
  • Tests to learn your blood and tissue type, along with a picture of your overall health. These blood tests are performed monthly.
 
Couple reviews lab results with doctor.
 

Living a healthy life after a transplant

Studies show that people with kidney transplants live longer than those who stay on dialysis.1 Additionally, most people are able to return to the life they had before being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD). There are also many other benefits to having a kidney transplant, including:

  • Better long-term health
  • Improved quality of life
  • Feeling better overall
  • The ability to continue working

It’s also important to be aware of the risks that come with a kidney transplant. For example, your body can reject your new kidney at any time. That’s why you’ll need to take anti-rejection medicines for as long as your new kidney is working. 

 

Weighing the pros and cons of a transplant

Pros

  • You get a healthy kidney.
  • You may feel healthier and have a better quality of life.
  • You can eat and drink more of what you want, although a heart-healthy diet is best.
  • You won’t need dialysis.
  • You may live longer than those who stay on dialysis. 

Cons

  • A kidney transplant requires major surgery.
  • There are risks, including infection and rejection.
  • You will need to stay on anti-rejection medications long-term.
  • You will need many medical tests before the transplant.
  • You may have to wait years for a donor kidney. 

Donating a kidney is a big decision and there’s a lot to consider before you do it."

 

Donating a kidney is a big decision and there’s a lot to consider before you do it. Here are a few things to think about before moving forward with kidney donation. Let’s break them down into three simple categories.

First, explore your feelings.

Consider why you want to donate a kidney. What do you expect from the experience? Are you really ready to take this step?

Second, examine your health.

Think about whether your physical health is strong enough to undergo a major surgery. Are you prepared to deal with the discomfort and possible complications from the procedure? Have you considered how donating could impact your lifestyle going forward?

Third, consider your finances.

Can kidney donation affect you financially? Who is going to pay for the procedure? And is your employer flexible about time off so you’ll have the time you need to recover? Make sure all your financial questions are answered before you donate.

If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, you’re probably ready to donate a kidney.

If you have further questions about kidney donation, reach out to the social worker at your local transplant center or call the National Kidney Foundation NKF Cares Help Line at 1-855-653-2273 for more information. You can also send an email to NKFcares@kidney.org.

 
 
 

1The National Kidney Foundation. Kidney transplant. The National Kidney Foundation website. January 26, 2017. Accessed June 30, 2022.