Kidneys are vital - if they are not working properly, replacement is needed. In addition to blood washing, a donor kidney offers this option. About 2, 600 people in Germany receive a new kidney each year - after an average of 5 to 6 years waiting time. Another 8, 000 patients hope that a suitable organ will be found. No matter which disease originally destroys the kidney tissue - a resulting functional failure of both kidneys (kidney failure) ends fatally if no countermeasures are taken.
Such renal replacement therapy includes on the one hand the lifelong blood washing (dialysis), on the other hand the transplantation of a foreign kidney. If a suitable organ is found and the kidney transplant is successful, it allows a nearly normal life in contrast to dialysis - with one (instead of two) functioning kidney can live almost without restriction.
Which conditions must be met?
In Germany, four out of five transmitted organs are from brain-dead patients who have given their consent to donate organs during their lifetime or whose relatives have consented to organ harvesting. Such kidneys are mediated via transplantation centers and ultimately through the central Eurotransplant exchange.
Living donations are also possible, mostly from parents or siblings or from life partner. A prerequisite is a high tissue compatibility between the donor and the recipient, so that the foreign organ is not repelled by the body.
Criteria for the allocation of donor kidneys
Since the need for donor organs is much higher than their number, in addition to the tissue properties, other criteria determine which patient receives a new kidney. These include waiting time, urgency, chances of success and distance between organ removal and transplantation site.
If a suitable organ is found, the recipient is notified immediately. Therefore, this must be accessible around the clock. To be included in the waiting list, the person concerned must undergo numerous investigations. These serve to determine the tissue type, to determine the general surgical risk and to exclude infectious foci.
Non-transplanted cancers that are not yet cured, chronic or severe acute infections, alcohol and drug dependence, and serious illnesses that make surgery impossible.