While not everyone is suitable for a kidney transplant, it may let you live a more normal life than the daily disruptions of dialysis allow.
If you have type I diabetes as well as kidney failure, it may be possible to transplant both a pancreas and a kidney, to restore kidney function and treat your diabetes. Your doctor will assess you to see if a combined kidney/pancreas transplant could be suitable for you.
Is a kidney transplant right for me?
A kidney transplant is not suitable for everyone with kidney failure. You might have other health conditions that make a transplant too complicated or risky. You also need to be given a kidney that matches as closely as possible various characteristics of your own body, to maximise the long-term success of your transplant. In general, a transplant from a living donor who is related to you gives the best results.
As with most medical procedures, there are risks connected with a transplant and you will need to have lots of tests to see whether it is a suitable option for you. This will involve studying both the characteristics of your immune system, and your general physical health.
If a transplant is a good option for you, your medical team and other specialists will help you understand all the details. You may also find it helpful to talk to someone who has already had a transplant; your medical team can arrange this if you wish.
While on the transplant waiting list you will need to follow strict rules about diet, medication and general lifestyle. You are also at greater risk of infections and other illnesses.
Will a kidney be available for me?
Kidneys for transplant can come from people who have died, or from living donors who are related to you or from non-related people such as partners or friends. In some countries, they may also come from unknown donors who want to make this altruistic gift.
There is a shortage of organs for transplant, and you may have to wait months or even years before getting a transplant. Your medical team will give you all the necessary information about regulations and waiting lists where you live.
Is a transplant a major operation?
Yes, transplant surgery is a significant operation. You will usually have to stay in hospital for 4-7 days. After the operation, you will have to take medication for the rest of your life to prevent your new kidney from being rejected. You will also be monitored closely by your medical team who will see you regularly for review and tests.