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Kidney Transplant Medical Information

Unfortunately, we don’t know what life has in store for us. We could be victims of terrible illnesses and disease and often we may be exposed to tragic situations as well, as our loved ones battle for their lives. However, today, thanks to modern medical science, we can have a chance at getting life back in many situations where it was simply not possible in the past.Kidney disease is common and one should be aware that kidney transplant can be an option to help save a patient’s life. Below is some information that allows you to become aware of what a kidney transplant procedure would entail and how it came about being one of the most successful treatments for kidney disease.

The First Successful Kidney transplant

The first successful live donor kidney transplant took place on December 23, 1954. The surgical team was led by Dr. David Hume and Dr. Joseph Murray in Boston at the Brigham Hospital. The kidney that was transplanted in to patient Ronald Herrick was taken from his identical twin Richard Herrick. Technology was so under-developed at the time, that there were no actual ways to determine whether 2 people are twins. In this case fingerprints for the 2 were taken by the police and they were indeed identified as twins.

The first successful kidney transplant that took place from a deceased donor was performed in 1962, also in Boston at Brigham Hospital by a surgical team that was led by the same Dr. David Hume and Dr. Joseph Murray.

Kidney Transplant Statistics & Facts

Chronic Kidney Disease and End Stage Renal Disease have become rampant all around us. In America, One in Ten Adults, that is more than 20 million people are known to suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease.

The number of kidney transplantations increased considerably from the years 1980 to 2006.

Survival rate for patients who undergo kidney transplant in the first five years is 85.5%, it beats the survival rate of the more common kidney treatment, dialysis, which is just 35.8%.

Understanding a few facts about a kidney transplant is important when it is you or someone near and dear to you who needs the transplant. Below are some facts that you could use.

The kidneys are bean shaped organs, two in number they are placed on either side of the body, just below the rib cage. They are responsible for filtering the waste from one’s blood, before they convert it in to urine. Once the kidneys fail, this will lead to building up of waste products in the blood and is potentially life-threatening.

This loss of the kidney’s functioning is known as chronic kidney disease or kidney failure and is usually the main reason for considering a kidney transplant. While dialysis can provide the filtering effect that is required, it tends to be time consuming and very inconvenient and therefore, in many cases a kidney transplant is a smart choice for end stage chronic kidney diseases.

A kidney transplant is basically the transfer of a healthy kidney from one person, who is the donor, to the recipient.

Kidney transplant is a major surgical procedure and comes with a number of risks attached:

Short-term risks may include: blood clots, infection and rejection. Long-term issues include adding steady medications to the patient’s lifestyle to reduce the risk of organ rejection.

It is very important that one maintains a healthy lifestyle to minimize risks of rejection after the procedure. One should quit smoking, follow a healthy diet and lose weight if they are on the heavier side of the scales.

In the UK, as in many other countries, the demand for kidneys is higher than the amount of donors willing to donate their kidneys, both dead and living. Statistics suggest that between April 2010 and April 2011, 1020 living donations were made and 1667 donations were made from people recently deceased, still leaving about 7000 people on the waiting list for a kidney.

Donors & Waiting Lists

As mentioned, a kidney transplant is usually the treatment of choice for people who are facing kidney failure. Kidney transplant allows patients to rid themselves from the inconvenience of dialysis, and enjoy their lives, living a practically normal lifestyle in many cases.

Patients who are on the waiting list, are in line and are waiting for a kidney to become available for transplantation. There is no way of really knowing how long the waiting period could be, the wait could be up to two years and even more.

It is possible that patients are on multiple lists, as one of the main criteria is that the recipient should b able to travel to the transplant center within a 6 – 10 hour notice. When this criterion is met by a patient, it often tends to increase the chance of getting a kidney transplant.

Every patient who is placed on a regional list automatically makes it to the national list of kidney transplants as well, also known as the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS).

Once a kidney has become available, the information is sent to UNOS, and UNOS starts generating a list of potential recipients. If the kidney matches the needs of someone on the national list, it will be made available to the patient, no matter where they are situated.

To find a place on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, the recipient needs to be healthy, and should not suffer from any infections or cancer. The patient’s condition should also adhere to various other medical requirements.

A host of factors are taken into consideration when deciding which patient gets the available kidney. The kidney has to match by way of blood and tissue type, the time that a patient has spent on the list will also be considered and their overall health condition is probably one of the main factors.

When a kidney has become available, UNOS will look in to its database and will try and look for a recipient locally. However, if they are unable to find a local

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recipient, then the search will be expanded regionally and then nationally.

Survival Rate, Life Expectancy & Recovery Time

The national kidney transplant survival rates have been improving. Loss of kidney graft post transplantation dropped from 5.2% in 2008 to 2.7 in 2009.

Nationally, the survival rate for deceased donor kidney transplants were as follows:

6 month kidney transplant survival rate in 2009: 94.4%
1 year kidney transplant survival rate in 2008: 92%
3 year kidney transplant survival rate in 2006: 81.9%

The statistics for living donor kidney transplants were:

6 month kidney transplant survival rate in 2009: 97.7%
1 year kidney transplant survival rate in 2008: 96.5%
3 year kidney transplant survival rate in 2006: 90.9%


Since kidney transplantation is a major procedure, recovery requires a lot of time and effort. It depends on the physical and mental condition of the patient and differs greatly from one recipient to another. It will take a few months for a person to get back to normal, but it is essential that people understand the effort that is needed, and take proper precautions so as to avoid any complications – all, of course, with constant feedback and consultation from the medical staff supporting the patient after the surgery.