Kidney transplantation

A kidney transplant is an option that requires a major operation. During a transplant, a healthy donor kidney is placed into your body. The healthy kidney then takes over the work that your kidneys can no longer do.

Dialysis may be needed while waiting for your transplant. Transplantation is a treatment, not a cure – it requires lifelong medications and the risk of your body rejecting the new kidney is a possibility.

Where do donor kidneys come from?

The healthy donor kidney can be from a suitable living person, a living donor, or an organ donor who has decided to donate their organs when they die (cadaver donors). Living donors must be free of any health problems, and their blood type must match the patient’s. Your transplant team will order procedures and tests to determine if you can accept the donor kidney.

About 70% of all transplanted kidneys are from cadavers (deceased donors). Waiting for a kidney from a cadaver also requires procedures and tests while you are on some form of dialysis waiting for the transplant procedure. In addition, the wait for most individuals in Canada can vary due to limited availability of donors.

Not everyone is eligible for a kidney transplant. Your doctor and healthcare team can help determine if transplantation is possible for you, or if your particular condition makes this option too risky or too unlikely to succeed.

Placing new kidney

During the operation, a healthy kidney is placed deep under the muscle of the abdomen, near your hipbone. In rare cases, the non-working kidneys may be removed to control infection or high blood pressure. Rejection can be a major complication of kidney transplantation. Unfortunately, even drugs can sometimes fail to stop the body from rejecting a transplanted kidney. If this happens, you need to go back on dialysis and possibly wait for another donor kidney.

How do I take care of my transplanted kidney?

  • Take your medicine every day
  • See your doctors regularly
  • Follow your doctors’ guidelines
  • Control your diet
  • Keep active