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Chronic Kidney Disease

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Surgery

Kidney transplant

If you have chronic kidney disease that progresses, you may have the option of a kidney transplant. Most experts agree that it is the best option for people with kidney failure. In general, people who have kidney transplants live longer than people treated with dialysis.

You will probably be considered a good candidate if you don't have significant heart, lung, or liver disease or other diseases, such as cancer, which might decrease your life span.

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There are some drawbacks. You may have to wait for a kidney to be donated. If so, you will need to have dialysis while you wait. Also, it may be hard to find a good match for your blood and tissue types. Sometimes, even when the match is good, the body rejects the new kidney.

After a kidney transplant, you will have to take medicines called immunosuppressants. These medicines, such as cyclosporine or tacrolimus, help prevent your body from rejecting your new kidney.

  • It is very important to take your medicines exactly as prescribed. This will help keep your body from rejecting your new kidney.
  • You will need to take medicines for the rest of your life.
  • Because these medicines weaken the function of your immune system, you will have an increased risk for serious infections or cancer.

Even if you take your medicines, there is a chance that your body will reject your new kidney. If this happens, you will have to resume dialysis or have another kidney transplant.

The success of the transplant also depends on what kind of donor kidney you are receiving. The closer the donor kidney matches your genetic makeup, the better the chances that your body will not reject it.

For more general information about transplant, see the topic Organ Transplant.

What to think about

A kidney transplant doesn't guarantee that you will live longer than you would have without a new kidney.

Kidney transplant surgery is expensive but has been covered by Medicare since the 1970s. Check with your insurance company or Medicare about your coverage.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 15, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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