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The exact procedure for kidney transplant surgery varies slightly depending on how the surgery is performed. The main difference depends on whether or not there is a live donor. In either case, the person receiving the kidney undergoes stomach surgery, and the new kidney is linked to the circulatory system, which makes it begin to function. The final step is to connect the new kidney to the person’s bladder using its natural tube. Generally, doctors don’t actually remove the old kidneys except in cases where there is some additional complication, so the person will technically end up with three kidneys, although only one will be fully functional.
If there is a live donor, the kidney transplant surgery operation is generally more complicated because the lives of two patients are on the line. The operation is generally more dangerous for the person receiving the kidney than for the donor. Studies have shown that live donors offer the best chance of success, but most transplants involve kidneys from deceased donors.
The main concern when performing kidney transplant surgery is the fear of a rejection. This is when a person’s immune system sees the new organ as an invader and attacks it. This can happen under the best of circumstances, but doctors can lessen the chances by choosing people with highly compatible blood types and similar tissue. For this reason, kidney transplants are often performed using people who are closely related, but that isn’t always possible. Even when a relative can’t be used, it is often possible to find a compatible close acquaintance or a compatible kidney from a deceased person.
In order to keep a person from suffering a rejection after kidney transplant surgery, doctors will give the person special medicines that make his immune system weaker. This has the obvious side effect of making the person more prone to sickness, but it’s generally considered a worthwhile trade off. The use of immune system suppressants generally has to continue for the remainder of the patient’s life, and if the person stops, there is a very high risk of rejection developing.
Sometimes rejection develops anyway despite following every precaution perfectly. Some rejections happen immediately, while others may take years to happen. There are times when doctors are able to stop rejection through the use of medication, but in other cases, a person may be forced to get another kidney transplant.
Kidney transplant surgery is not generally used except in the most extreme case where every other option has been exhausted. Doctors usually wait until the person’s kidneys are at the point where they will almost certainly cause an imminent fatal illness. Most kidney failure is caused by complications from diabetes, but there are also other causes.