The key role of kidneys is to filter waste products from the blood and convert them to urine. Kidney failure results to build up of waste products in the body and this can be life-threatening.
End-stage chronic kidney disease is the main cause of loss of kidney function. Kidney failure calls for a kidney donation in order to restore kidney functionality. Through dialysis, functions of the kidneys can be slightly replicated. However, dialysis is very expensive and has to be conducted regularly to keep the blood clean. The only lasting solution for kidney failure is a kidney transplant. Here are 10 facts about kidney donation:
1. Numerous patients are in dire need of a Kidney donation
Countless people across the world develop kidney complications resulting in a failure of both kidneys. These people are mainly put on kidney transplant waiting list. Kidney donors are not enough. The number of people in need of kidneys surpasses that of the available donors. In the United States, for instance, statistics as at November 2016 indicated that more than 100,000 people were in need of kidney transplant.
People have to wait for as long as four years before getting a kidney donation. These patients have to undergo years of dialysis treatment as they await transplant in order to remain alive. Statistics further indicate that more than 3000 people are added to the kidney waiting list each month. Around 30 people die every day as they wait to undergo a kidney transplant.
2. Kidneys can be obtained from Living or Deceased Donors
You can donate a kidney while you are alive. Kidneys can also be obtained from deceased people a few hours after death. With live donors, only one kidney is donated. For deceased donors, both kidneys are donated. In the United States of America, there were 5535 living kidney donors in the year 2014.
The total number of deceased donors amounted to 7761. Living donations mainly come from relatives. These are likely to have matching blood group and tissue type as the recipient. Due to the emotional connection, living donors are more than willing to assist their relatives. Deceased donors can fall into two categories; Brain-Dead Donors ( BD) and Donation after Cardiac Death (DCD).
Brain dead donors are considered dead while their heart is still pumping blood. Kidney transplant operation can be conducted on them when the blood is still being circulated. After the cardiac death (DCD), kidneys are extracted and placed in storing solution awaiting donation.
3. Compatibility is needed between Donors and Recipients
There are mainly three tests that are conducted to determine whether the donor and the recipient are compatible. These are blood group, HLA testing, and crossmatch testing. For living donations, blood tests have to be conducted. Blood type O is considered a universal donor. Blood group AB is a universal recipient and is compatible with any blood type.
HLA testing entails examining the human leukocyte antigen. The recipient should not have strong antibodies against the donor’s HLA. Cross-match testing entails mixing the donor’s blood with that of the recipient. If the recipient cells attack and kill the donor cells the pair is not compatible. If the crossmatch is negative, the pair is compatible.
4. Not everyone qualifies to be a donor
People willing to give a kidney have to undergo an intense medical testing. The donor is evaluated on medical as well as psychological grounds. The donor should be fit to undergo surgery and should not have any illness that may escalate the risk involved.
Some tests conducted on potential donors include urine tests, blood tests, blood pressure monitoring, Glucose tolerance test, ECG and kidney tests among others.
5. Not every Patient qualify as a recipient
For you to receive a kidney and undergo a transplant, several things have to be considered. You should be strong enough to survive the transplant surgery. The doctors have to establish that the surgery has high chances of success.
You have to be willing to comply with all the treatments and procedures needed after a transplant. If the recipient has an infection, it has to be treated first. People with severe heart disease, cancer or critical HIV may be unsuitable recipients. Statistics indicate that in every three people with kidney failure, only one is eligible for transplant.
6. Living Donors should be of majority age
For a candidate to be an eligible donor, he has to be over 18 years of age. Minors are not allowed to donate their kidneys. Usually, you should be not younger than 18 years and not older than 65 years. Very old donors might be at a risk of developing complications after surgery.
7. A donor can perfectly survive on one kidney
Donating one kidney and living with one will not affect your quality of life. Your life expectancy will also not be affected by donating one kidney. Women who have donated a kidney are known to maintain the pregnancy to maturity with no complications whatsoever.
8. The recipient may receive a kidney and still maintain his failed kidneys
In most cases, barely functioning kidneys are not removed from the patient. Removal of failed kidneys tends to increase the rate of surgical morbidity. The donated kidney is thus placed at a different location from the failed kidneys. Mainly, it is placed on iliac fossa where it can get a fresh supply of blood.
9. Both the Donor and the Recipient undergo surgery
Normally, transplant surgery takes around three hours for both the living donor and the recipient. The donor’s kidney is planted on the lower abdomen of the recipient. Its blood vessels are connected to those of the recipient.
This will make it possible for blood to flow through the kidneys. The ureter from the donor’s kidney has to be connected to the bladder. This will help the kidney to start producing urine.
10. Living Kidney donations are more successful
Kidneys donated by living people are more successful than those obtained from deceased donors. Upon undergoing a transplant, living kidneys require only about 3-5 days to reach normal functioning levels. On the other hand, it may take up to 7-15 days for cadaveric donations to start functioning well.
A successful kidney transplant can last you for a long time. Several factors may affect how long the kidney will last. These include the age and overall health of the recipient. Whether the kidney was sourced from a living donor or a deceased donor also matters.
Also important is how well the kidney is matched to the recipient’s blood group and tissue type. Recovery from a donation transplant may take several weeks after which one can live a perfectly healthy life.
Immunosuppressant drugs may be used after a transplant to prevent the recipient’s body from rejecting the kidney. A lifestyle change such as shifting from drug and substance abuse and adopting healthy eating procedures will help enhance the longevity of the new kidney.