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Natalie Cole Recovering After Kidney Transplant

Cole May Leave Hospital Next Week

Kidney Transplant

As long as Cole's hepatitis C virus is gone, "then she should do fine with the transplant," Bacon says.

Before her kidney transplant, Cole had gotten kidney dialysis three times per week since September.

"In general, kidney transplantation is associated with better patient survival than dialysis, even when you compare patients who remain on the waiting list," Ron Shapiro, MD, professor of surgery and director of the kidney transplant program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, tells WebMD.

"Hopefully, [Cole will] do well and have a good outcome and have the quality of her life be vastly better," says Shapiro, who isn't treating Cole.

Cole's new kidney came from a deceased donor through the regional organ procurement agency, One Legacy, according to Cole's web site.

Most transplanted kidneys come from people who have died, according to background information on the web site of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The transplantation operation itself is "a relatively short procedure. It can be on the order of three to four hours, sometimes faster, sometimes longer," says Shapiro. He adds that unlike a transplanted heart, lung, or liver, it can be OK if transplanted kidneys don't work immediately after the transplant. 

Cole will need to take immune-suppressing medication for the rest of her life to reduce the risk that her body will reject the new kidney. She'll also likely need to take drugs to lessen the likelihood of infections, which are a risk that comes with immune-suppressing drugs.

"In the beginning, you're a walking pharmacy after kidney transplants, and eventually, you're on decreasing amounts of medication, but you're always on something to prevent rejection, even if it's only one drug, although often it's more than that," Shapiro says.

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