Patients suffering from End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) are unable to filter their blood and maintain fluid balances due to their kidney dysfunction. Dialysis is used to keep these patients alive, taking over the essential tasks that their kidneys can no longer perform. Whether hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, this is an encumbering process that can make everyday life very difficult. Kidney transplantation is a means for these patients to be able to resume a normal life free of dialysis, and regain the strength and stamina that ESRD took from them.
A multidisciplinary evaluation process is necessary to determine a patient’s suitability for transplant. Patients with severe heart disease or vascular disease may not be good candidates for transplant and may therefore not make it onto the transplant list.
Once listed, a patient accrues time and moves up the list. Unfortunately, the average waiting time for a cadaveric kidney (one taken from a person who has died) is 4-5 years. Another option is having a living person donate a kidney. This can eliminate the years of waiting, and these kidneys also tend to survive longer than cadaveric kidneys.
The actual operation in most cases lasts two to three hours. An incision is made in the inguinal (groin) region, and the kidney is attached to the blood vessels that provide flow to the patient’s leg. The ureter, which drains urine from the kidney, is attached to the bladder, and the patient voids normally. The kidney is well protected in this pelvic pocket, and does not restrict activity once the patient has recovered from surgery. The native kidneys are not removed in most cases.
The post-operative course typically involves 3-4 days of in-hospital stay, followed by transition to the outpatient setting. After full recovery, the patient is not physically limited by the new kidney’s location and can return to normal activity.
Our team performs more kidney transplants than any other hospital in the Rocky Mountain region, with excellent patient and graft survival results. Despite our high volume, we still provide personalized individual care. We have an experienced team of providers to make the process as seamless as possible, from pre-transplant evaluation to post-operative care and follow-up.