The kidneys perform the vital function of filtering the blood and removing wastes and toxins from the system. If both the kidneys stop working, the subsequent build up of wastes and toxins in the body can cause other complications. Renal or kidney transplantation is usually only done in patients who are suffering from end stage kidney disease who are dependent on dialysis for their excretory function. During the procedure the kidney which is retrieved either from a living donor or a deceased (brain dead) donor is implanted into the patient’s abdomen. The patient’s diseased kidneys are not usually removed.
The kidney for the transplantation may be donated by a deceased donor or a living donor, such as a family member. The donor kidney is carefully chosen based on the patient’s blood type and human leukocyte antigen type (HLA). This helps to minimise the chances of the body rejecting the donor organ. Rejection occurs when the body’s immune system identifies the donor kidney as a foreign body and starts to produce an immune response to attack it. The patient is prescribed immune suppressant medications after the surgery to lower the risk of organ rejection.