Kidney and Pancreas Transplants
Frequently Asked Questions
- Test Your Kidney I.Q.
Take the Kidney Quiz and more at the National Kidney Foundation website.
What is the surgery and hospital stay like?
The surgery to perform the transplant is typically four to six hours long with a 12 hour recovery in the intensive care unit (ICU). When the patient has recovered enough to produce a sufficient amount of urine they are moved to the hospital ward where they are educated on how to maintain their health and take the right amount of medication.
What are some of the post-transplant complications?
Technical problems can arise like urine leaks and blood clots at the connection areas. Leakage at the connection site will require more surgery.
High or low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, pain control issues, constipation and diarrhea could also occur after the transplant.
Rarely occurring, but severe complications include heart attack, bleeding, stroke, and sudden graft loss, which is a clot that stops blood flow to the kidney.
Months or years after transplantation, the patient could experience infections, chronic kidney and/or pancreas dysfunction or rejection of the transplanted organ.
What are immunosuppressive medications?
These are powerful drugs that are used to suppress parts of the immune system so the body will not reject the new organ. Prograf, Myfortic, Prednisone and Myfortic are the types of immunosuppressive medications used to help keep the body from identifying the new organ as a foreign body.
The exact combination and dosage of these immunosuppressive medications is tailored to the unique circumstances of each patient. Medication levels in the patient’s blood are carefully monitored to ensure each patient is receiving the amount of immunosuppressant appropriate for them.
Where do donor organs come from?
Kidney donor programs are available, but generally speaking, there are three sources of donor organs:
- Deceased Donors. When someone is pronounced brain dead in the emergency room or another part of the hospital, the family has the option to donate the person’s organs if they signed a donor card or expressed to their family that they wanted to be an organ donor.
- Live Donors (relative or friend of recipient). This person decides to donate their organs while they are still living to help a relative or a friend in need of a transplant. They are first given an evaluation over the phone and are scheduled to undergo the same lab work and testing the transplant recipient went through. Live donors must be in the same blood group as the recipient and must not have any health issues including weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure or a history of kidney stones (in the case of a kidney transplant).
- Altruistic Donors. These are living donors who just want to donate an organ anonymously to help another person. Their name and health information is also added to a registry, so they might be able to find a recipient who is a match.