You will find relevant information about kidney transplantation on this page. This includes the answers to questions you may have and points your transplant team wish you to know. This includes the risks and benefits of kidney transplantation and alternative treatments to kidney transplantation.

Does everyone with kidney failure get a transplant?

No. Only about 50% of patients with renal failure are on the active transplant list. Each patient will assessed individually to see if transplantation is the best option.

Why might kidney transplantation not be the best option?

There are reasons why kidney transplantation may not be the best option. Reasons can include:

  • History of recent cancer
  • Major surgery
  • Bad heart, lung, or blood vessel disease

During your assessment, the transplant team will assess you to determine if kidney transplantation is the best option for you.

What are the risks?

Kidney transplantation is a very successful treatment for renal
failure. However, complications can occur and some of these are listed below.

Rejection

Your body will recognise that your new kidney is “foreign” and the natural response is to attack and reject it. You will be given drugs to reduce the chance of this happening. Despite these drugs, early rejection is fairly common, especially in the first three months following your transplant.

The signs of rejection can be:

  • Pain over your new kidney
  • Fever
  • Reduced urine output
  • Flu-like symptoms

In many cases there are no signs of rejection and it is detected following one of your regular blood tests. Most episodes of rejection at this early stage will respond to treatment. This will require an increased dose of anti-rejection drugs and/or a change in your medication.

Very rarely the rejection cannot be controlled. In these cases the kidney will need to be removed and you will have to return to dialysis. When you feel well enough you will be given the opportunity to discuss going back on to the transplant waiting list.

Infection

The anti-rejection treatment that you must take following your transplant means that you will be more likely to develop infections. The risk is greater in the early stages after your transplant when the doses of the drugs are higher. It is important that you contact the transplant unit quickly if you think you have an infection.

If you know any friends or relatives who have a serious infection, it is a good idea if you avoid visiting them while they are unwell.

What are the benefits?

Kidney transplantation is an excellent treatment for kidney failure and offers the chance to lead a nearly normal life with:

  • Freedom from dialysis
  • Improved capacity to socialise and enjoy life to the full
  • Return of strength and energy
  • Freedom from dietary restrictions
  • No restriction on physical activity (except contact sports)

Not found what you are looking for?

For more information have a look at the Kidney Transplant Information Booklet. If you are unsure of anything or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact your transplant coordinator.