When your kidneys fail, treatment is needed to replace the work your own kidneys can no longer do. There are two types of treatment for kidney failure — dialysis or transplant. Many people feel that a kidney transplant offers more freedom and a better quality of life than dialysis. In making a decision about whether this is the best treatment for you, you may find it helpful to talk to people who already have a kidney transplant. You also need to speak to your doctor, nurse and family members.
When you get a kidney transplant, a healthy kidney is placed inside your body to do the work your own kidneys can no longer do.
On the plus side, there are fewer limits on what you can eat and drink, but you should follow a heart-healthy diet. Your health and energy should improve. In fact, a successful kidney transplant may allow you to live the kind of life you were living before you got kidney disease. Studies show that people with kidney transplants live longer than those who remain on dialysis.
On the minus side, there are the risks of surgery. You will also need to take anti-rejection medicines for as long as your new kidney is working, which can have side effects. You will have a higher risk for infections and certain types of cancer.
Although most transplants are successful and last for many years, how long they last can vary from one person to the next. Many people will need more than one kidney transplant during a lifetime.
A donated kidney may come from someone who died and donated a healthy kidney. A person who has died and donated a kidney is called a deceased donor.
Donated kidneys also can come from a living donor. This person may be a blood relative (like a brother or sister) or non-blood relative (like a husband or wife). They can also come from a friend or even a stranger.
If you’re in kidney failure, ask your healthcare provider to refer you to a transplant center for an evaluation, or contact a transplant center in your area. Any kidney patient can ask for an evaluation.
Indiana Transplant Centers
IU Health University Hospital
550 N University Blvd
Indianapolis, IN 46202