Our kidneys play a vital role in the day to day functioning of the human body and are essential for our survival. The Kidneys are essential for removal of toxins and waste products from our body. They not only regulate water and acid-base balance in the body to keep it neutral which is needed for normal function of many processes but also play a major role in regulating blood pressure and secreting hormones which are essential for growth , bone health and production of red blood cells ( hemoglobin) which carry oxygen in our bodies.
As kidneys become diseased, they lose their ability to function. When both the kidneys are functioning lesser than 10%, condition is called end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or kidney failure. Treatments for kidney failure are hemodialysis, a mechanical process to clean the blood of waste products through a machine; peritoneal dialysis, in which toxins are removed by passing chemical solutions through the abdomen; and kidney transplant. Dialysis is the most common modality that is chosen to support the failed kidney but is not the best modality. Kidney transplant is often preferable to dialysis due to the various advantages a functioning kidney can provide over a machine.
On an average, Dialysis can only achieve partial renal function. After a transplant, the renal function are near normal. This results in significantly improved health. A kidney transplant also provides a better quality of life than dialysis. Patients lifestyle is no longer restricted by dialysis sessions. Most kidney patients feel more energetic after a transplant. They can resume their daily activities more easily. There are no dietary restrictions as compare to dialysis patients. Life expectancy increases after a kidney transplant.
In short, life will offer you many more opportunities after a transplant. With newer and advanced surgical techniques and better medications the success rates of transplant surgery have become as high as 97%. The donor can resume his normal lifestyle routine in 1-2 weeks of the surgery and hospital stay for the donor is not more than 3-4 days. The risk or complications involved for the donors in the kidney transplant surgery are none. Kidney donors do not require any dietary restrictions or long term medications have normal life expectancy and live a absolutely healthy life.
A kidney transplant has a huge positive impact on future life of end stage kidney patients, with very few disadvantages. After a kidney transplant, the patients would need to take lifelong immunosuppressant medications to ensure that their body does not reject the transplanted kidney, this puts these patients at a slightly higher risk of contracting infections, however with newer immunosuppressant’s which are required to be given in very low dosages this risk is minimal.
Besides this the overall quality of life remains vastly better post transplant and indeed renal transplant could be the step that could transform the lives of millions of patients who are suffering from end stage renal failure which is a progressive and debilitating disease with profound psychological, social and financial repercussions. On this World Kidney Day I emphasize that timely discussion with your nephrologist could help change the life of many.