You may have recently been told that you need or may need a kidney transplant. Kidney transplantation can provide a new chance for a longer, more active life for people who are on dialysis or have chronic kidney disease.
Learning more about the procedure and the lifetime commitment involved can help you determine if transplantation is a good treatment option for you. The experienced team at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital will work with you as a partner in your care and will guide you every step of the way – from referral to surgery and beyond.
People have kidney transplants for a condition called End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). ESRD means that your kidneys are no longer able to effectively remove fluid and waste products from your body. Although most people with ESRD are on dialysis, there are some who are not.
The most common causes of ESRD are diabetes and hypertension (also known as high blood pressure). To determine if you are a transplant candidate, you will be evaluated by our highly trained team of doctors, nurses, social workers, dietitians and financial counselors. If you are determined to be a candidate, you will be added to the waiting list according to your blood type.
Once an organ becomes available, you will be called into the hospital for transplant surgery. During the surgery, your new kidney will be placed into your abdomen near the hip bone. Unless you native kidneys are causing problems such as infection, bleeding or pain, they are usually not removed. The surgery lasts approximately three hours.
When the surgery is over you will be transported to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) where a team of nurses and doctors will carefully monitor your progress. You may have drainage tubes in your nose and a catheter placed in your bladder for urine drainage. You will also have intravenous lines to give you hydrating fluids and oxygen to help you breathe. Over the next few days, these tubes and lines will be removed, and you can to start eating food and getting out of bed to exercise. Eventually, you will be moved to a regular room for continued monitoring.
Depending on your progress, you can expect to go home in about five days. After you go home, you will be seen in our clinic twice weekly, where you will also have labs drawn to check the status of your new kidney. As you continue to progress, you will need to be seen much less frequently. Most people can expect to return to work in about six to eight weeks, depending on your progress and the type of work you do.