Donated kidneys come from living or deceased donors

For people living with end-stage renal (kidney) disease or kidney failure, a kidney transplant may be an option if you have no active infections or other life-threatening diseases, such as cancer or heart disease.

The two types of kidney transplant are living donor (when the kidney comes from a live person who has donated one of their kidneys) or deceased donor (when the kidney comes from a person who has recently died, who chose to donate their kidneys upon death).

How kidney transplant is done and what to expect afterwards

Donor kidneys must match your own body’s tissue and blood type so that your body is more likely to “accept” the new kidney. Once a matching donor has been identified and you have met all of the qualifications for receiving an organ transplant, your surgery can be scheduled. The surgery itself takes approximately three to five hours, during which time the surgeon will attach the blood vessels and arteries of the new kidney to your own arteries and vessels. The ureter (which passes urine) will also be attached to your bladder.

With successful kidney transplant, the new kidney begins to function immediately, doing its job of flushing toxins and waste out of your body by way of urine. In some cases, it may take some time for you to pass urine as your body gets used to the new kidney and functioning. Once your new kidney is functioning well, however, you may be able to quickly resume normal activities. In many cases, because people who have had a transplant had previously been on dialysis, quality of life is greatly improved as a result of the kidney transplant.

Lankenau Medical Center, home to our kidney transplant program, performed its 500th kidney transplant in 2016.

Risks and benefits of having a kidney transplant

With kidney transplant there is always the possibility that your body will reject the new organ, perceiving it as something “foreign” to the body, which must be attacked by the body’s immune system. For this reason, people who have had a kidney transplant must take an immunosuppressant, a drug that prevents the immune system from attacking the new organ, for the rest of their lives. With a compromised immune system, you may be more vulnerable to infection and disease so your condition must always be monitored closely.

At Main Line Health our kidney transplant team has been restoring the lives of patients with kidney failure for more than 20 years. Lankenau Medical Center, home to our kidney transplant program, performed its 500th kidney transplant in 2016.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.