When the desired call arrives, everything has to go very fast - the donor kidney is transplanted no later than 24 hours after collection. The affected person is not allowed to eat and drink anything and has to go to the clinic immediately. There he is again carefully examined.
The actual surgery is performed under general anesthesia and takes about 2 to 3 hours. The donor kidney with blood vessels and the ureter is implanted in the region of the right or left inguinal region, as the large pelvic vessels of the patient are particularly well accessible there. For this purpose, about 10 cm below and at the side of the navel, a 20 cm long incision is made. The renal vessels of the donor kidney are connected with the pelvic vessels, the ureter of the new organ with the bladder.
The old kidneys are usually left as they do not bother and the extra procedure would increase the risk of complications. The new kidney is in the pelvic area, although quite protected, but closer to the abdominal wall than the old and is there even palpable. It usually takes up its function within 2 to 7 days, at the latest after 2 weeks. The patient usually recovers quickly. The skin clips are removed after about 10 days, the hospital stay is a total of 3 to 8 weeks.
What complications can occur?
Complications occur mainly directly after the operation. These include occlusions of the renal vessels due to blood clots and leaks at the connecting sutures. However, the most feared are transplant rejection and infections. In many cases, the difficulties can be dealt with in time with adequate therapy, without the affected person losing the new organ.
Living with the new kidney
Immediately after the operation, the drug therapy is started, which prevents a rejection reaction. These immunosuppressants must be taken lifelong and according to a rigid scheme. Because they suppress the immune system, those affected are more susceptible to infections.
Other drugs may only be used in consultation with the doctor - even headache tablets or homeopathic remedies can have fatal consequences. Regular check-ups are also extremely important in order to check the function of the new kidney and the dosage of medication and to detect complications early on.
A special diet is not necessary, but the diet should be balanced and salt, cholesterol, fat and low sugar. Working, sports, traveling, pregnancy - in principle anything is possible, as long as extreme stress is avoided.
The prospects of living with a foreign kidney for a long time are now quite good due to the potent drugs. In one in ten patients, the kidney is rejected in the first year and the person has to return to dialysis. After five years, the donor kidney is still functioning smoothly in 70 to 80% of the patients. Meanwhile, there are sufferers who have been living with their new kidney for more than 30 years!