You should know it too: 10 important facts about kidney transplantations

The kidneys filter waste from the blood and help regulate blood pressure, electrolyte balance and red blood cell production. (Shutterstock)

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted she has kidney failure and is undergoing dialysis and tests for a kidney transplantation at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The kidneys filter waste from the blood and help regulate blood pressure, electrolyte balance and red blood cell production.

Dr Vijay Kher, chairman, department of nephrology and kidney transplantation, Fortis Escorts Hospital and Research Centre, tells us what to expect when kidneys fail.

1. Transplantation is needed when diseases such as diabetes, chronic nephritis, uncontrolled hypertension, polycystic ovaries etc lead to irreversible kidney damage and lower kidney function to less than 10%.

2. Initially, there are no symptoms but with the build-up of waste products and excess fluid in the body that causes weakness, breathlessness, lethargy, swelling, confusion, anemia and abnormal heart rhythm.

3. People with kidney failure need dialysis at least three times a week.

Transplantation is needed when diseases such as diabetes, chronic nephritis, uncontrolled hypertension, polycystic ovaries etc lead to irreversible kidney damage and lower kidney function to less than 10%. (Shutterstock)

4. Donor kidneys are taken from either brain-dead organ donors or the family of the recipient. To prevent organ trafficking, India’s Human Organ Transplantation Act (1994) allows only live transplants from close relatives, such as the father, mother, brother, sister, spouse or children. In exceptional cases, emotionally-related donors are allowed to donate.

5. Retrieval: One healthy kidney is retrieved laparoscopically or through conventional surgery from the donor and transplanted into the lower pelvis region through an incision in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen under general anaesthaesia. It is also done robotically at a few centres in India.

6. Transplantation: The donor kidney is sutured into place and its vessels connected to the vessels leading to the right leg (iliac vessels). The ureter is sutured to the bladder.

People with kidney failure need dialysis at least three times a week. (Shutterstock)

7. Post surgery: In most cases, the recipient’s two original kidneys are left in place and the transplanted kidney performs all the functions of both.

8. Transplantation recipients have to take immunosuppressive medications for life to prevent immune rejection of the transplanted organ. The recipient can get back to active life within a month after surgery.

9. Uncomplicated kidney transplantation costs around Rs 6 lakh, including investigations, and around Rs 2-2.5 lakh in a government hospital. This includes a four-day hospital stay for the donor and a week for the recipient.

10. Each year, close to 200,000 new people needs kidney transplantation but only around 7,000 kidney transplantations is done each year. Of these, more than 95% healthy kidneys come from live donors.

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