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Introduction to Kidney Transplantation

Kidney transplantation is a surgical procedure which is performed in people suffering from terminal kidney failure. It is essential to have a donor and without a donor the procedure is practically impossible. The donor provides with a healthy kidney.

Donors are classified as deceased donors and living donors. In case of deceased donors the kidney is obtained from a person who has recently died while in case of living donors a new kidney is obtained from a living person. Further division of living donors includes living related donors and living unrelated donors. Living related donors are genetically related to a patient while there is no genetic connection between a patient and a living unrelated donor. No matter to what group a living donor belongs to he/ she must be healthy and both of the kidneys must function properly. What is more, there is supposed to be a match between a recipient and donor's blood and tissues.

If a donor is a deceased person, the kidney is taken out and preserved in a saline solution for about 48 hours. The organ must be stored under cold conditions. During these 48 hours the doctor performs tests and evaluates compatibility of the donor and the recipient. In case of living donors compatibility is checked prior the surgery and transplantation includes simultaneous harvesting the donor's kidney and its transfer to a recipient.

Kidney Transplant - the Very Procedure

Both procedures, harvesting the kidney from a donor and its transfer to a recipient are performed under general anesthesia. In order to harvest the kidney a surgeon makes a small incision on the side of the abdomen. The kidney is removed through an incision and the wound is stitched after the kidney has been harvested. It is crucial to preserve the organ in cold storage conditions.

In other operating room the recipient is prepared for the operation. He/she are administered general anesthesia and a surgeon makes a cut in the lower belly portion. The kidney is transferred into the body through the incision line. The surgeons tend not to remove failure kidney from the recipient since this removal carries certain risks. The renal artery of the donated kidney is attached to the external iliac artery and the renal vein is attached to the external iliac vein.

The procedure lasts approximately 3 hours. In case other kidney is obtained from a living related donor it starts functioning immediately. On the other hand, if the new kidney is obtained from a living unrelated donor it normally starts producing urine after 3-5 days. Only if the kidney comes from a deceased person the production of urine may be postponed for a maximum of 15 days.

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