Kidney Transplant: About the Procedure

Preparation

You will undergo a variety of diagnostic tests and physical examinations to begin the transplant approval process. You will also be required to learn more about the transplant procedure and what will be required to maintain the transplanted kidney.

If you are approved for a transplant, you’ll be put on a waiting list. Patients must stay within six hours of the hospital so they can be ready at a moment's notice to receive their donor organ. If you are receiving a kidney from a friend or family member, you’ll be able to schedule the transplant procedure.

Procedure

The transplant organ must be tested before the transplant operation can begin. This test is to help make certain that the organ matches its recipient and will not be rejected by the recipient's body during the operation.

The new organ will be placed into your body during the transplant surgery, which can take between three and six hours. Your own kidneys usually will not be removed. The new kidney will be attached to the appropriate arteries, veins, and the ureter, the tube that carries urine to the bladder.

Recovery

You will stay in the hospital for five to nine days after the transplant surgery. The new kidney should start producing urine during that time; however, dialysis is sometimes needed until the kidney begins working on its own.

Most patients will take immunosuppressive (anti-rejection) drugs for the rest of their lives. These drugs help the body accept, and not reject, the new organ. You will also need to keep follow-up appointments with your doctors for the rest of your life.