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A kidney transplant may be a treatment option for ESRD.

Kidney transplant is an alternative to dialysis in individuals who have severe renal disease. A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure that inserts a healthy kidney from a donor into your body. Your kidney(s) are left in place, unless they are causing problems like an infection or high blood pressure. The donor may be a living relative, a close friend whose tissue closely matches yours, or someone who has died and donated his or her organs. One transplanted kidney does the work of two failed kidneys.

In a kidney that fails, rejection of the transplanted kidney occurs within 3 to 4 months after the surgical procedure. The symptoms of rejection include: fever, weight gain, reduced urine output, and an increase in blood pressure. Blood tests will also show deteriorating renal function. Drugs that keep your immune system from rejecting the kidney can keep the transplanted kidney working. There have been major advances in the development of immunosuppressive agents, including the following:

  • Tacrolimus
  • Mycophenolate mofetil
  • Anti-interleukin 2 receptor antibodies
  • Antithymocyte globulin
  • Muromonab-CD3
  • Alemtuzumab
  • Sirolimus

Complications from kidney transplantation and using immunosuppressive drugs include:

  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Adverse effects from immunosuppressive drugs:
    • Infection
    • General cancer risk increases 10-15 times; the risk of cancer of the lymphatic system increases 30 times.
    • Diabetes risk increases much more among African Americans than other ethnic groups.
References:

Andrews, PA. Renal transplantation. Brit Med J. 2002;324:530-534.

Chronic kidney disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 22, 2013. Accessed July 2, 2013.

Davis, CL, Delmonico, FL. Living-donor kidney transplantation: a review of the current practices for the live donor. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2005; 16:2098-2110.

End-stage renal disease. National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/Research/ScientificAreas/Kidney/KEB.htm Updated September 15, 2010. Accessed July 2, 2013.

Last reviewed July 2013 by Adrienne Carmack, MD; Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.