What do kidneys do?
The kidneys filter the blood by removing waste products and fluid. By producing urine, the waste products are removed. The kidneys balance the potassium and sodium levels and also produce several hormones. When patients are diagnosed with renal failure, it means their kidneys are not filtering properly and harmful waste products are accumulating in the blood. Your physician can tell this is happening by checking the BUN and creatinine levels in your blood.
What causes renal failure?
Renal failure, also called End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), has many causes. Some of the most common causes are diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), polycystic kidney disease, and infections. There is no cure for ESRD. However, two treatment options are available: dialysis and transplantation.
What is dialysis?
Dialysis is the process of artificially cleansing the blood in persons whose kidneys no longer function properly. Dialysis can be done either by hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. See the glossary for definitions of both types of dialysis.
What is kidney transplantation?
Transplantation is the surgical implantation of a human donor kidney. The donor kidney may come from a deceased donor or living donor. A living donor may or may not be a blood relative of the recipient.
Will the surgeon remove my natural kidneys during the transplant surgery?
Generally, the natural kidneys are left in place unless there is a medical reason for removing them. Your surgeon will discuss what is appropriate for you.
What are the advantages of kidney transplantation?
Transplantation offers several advantages over dialysis:
- no rigid schedules or large time commitments required each week for treatments. Hemodialysis takes four to five hours three times per week, not including time spent commuting to and from the dialysis center or waiting for an available machine.
- dialysis patients require regular injections of Epogen. The transplanted kidneys produce this substance naturally.
- no dependency upon a machine or equipment.
- a more normal, active lifestyle than with dialysis.
Is transplantation a cure?
Again, transplantation is not a cure for end stage renal disease. Rather, it should be viewed as a treatment that will require you to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of your life. Transplantation will require you to make clinic visits for the rest of your life. You will be responsible for the management of your new kidney for the rest of your life.