A kidney transplant is a surgery to put a healthy (donor) kidney into your body. There are two types of donors:
- Living donors. A living donor may be a family member, a friend, a coworker, or any person who is willing to give a kidney to someone in need. A person only needs one healthy kidney to live.
- Deceased donors. A deceased donor is someone who has recently died.
You may need to have tests to see how well the donor’s kidney matches your tissue type and blood type. A close tissue match reduces the chances that your body will reject the donor’s kidney. You will also be evaluated to make sure that you do not have significant heart or lung disease or other diseases, such as cancer, which might decrease your lifespan.
Kidney transplant surgery takes about 3 hours. During surgery, the donor kidney will be placed in your lower abdomen, blood vessels from the donor’s kidney will be connected to arteries and veins in your body, and the ureter from the donor’s kidney will be connected to your bladder. Blood is then able to flow through the donor’s kidney, and the kidney will begin to filter and remove wastes and to produce urine.
The donor kidney usually begins to function right away. In most cases, diseased or damaged kidneys are not removed unless you have a severe infection of the kidney (pyelonephritis), kidney cancer, nephrotic syndrome, or extremely large polycystic kidneys.