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Kidney Transplantation - FAQs

Written by Dr. Varshini Jayaraman,  Ph.D. | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Ramya Ananthakrishnan, MD on Jul 28, 2021
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Kidney Transplantation - FAQs

1. Can I purchase Kidney from a Donor?

No, Any kind of commercial dealing in human organs is illegal and a punishable offence under the Transplantation of Human Organ Act. The act states: “Any person who renders his services to or any hospital and who, for purpose of transplantation, conducts, associates with, or helps in any way manner in, the removal of any human organ without authority, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees.

2. Why is it better to have a kidney donor who is a near relative or a family member?

A kidney from a family member is usually a better match. The tissue match is usually better and hence episodes of rejection of the kidney are much less. The long-term results are also marginally better from a tissue-matched kidney. It also means that it greatly reduces the length of wait for transplant operation. If you do not have a near relative or the relative is not willing to donate the kidney then you can get enlisted on the cadaver (brain dead) programme of the hospitals offering such a programme.
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3. What are the risks in donating a kidney?

If a person is healthy and has two normally functioning kidneys then the risks in donating one kidney are very minimum. Some of us are born with one kidney and live a perfectly healthy life. In the same way a donor can lead a healthy life after donation. However the donor will have some amount of pain after the operation and will be left with a scar both of which subsides with time. The pain goes away after a month or so and the scar usually starts fading away with time.

4. What precautions should a kidney donor take?

After kidney donation the donor should avoid lifting heavy weights and physical exercises for 6 weeks to 3 months. The kidney donor should avoid any contact sports like football, wrestling and boxing to minimize the risk of damaging the functioning kidney. They should also have their ‘Blood Pressure’ checked at least once a year.

5. Will the transplanted kidney start working immediately after the operation?

In majority of the living related kidney operation, yes, it will start functioning immediately after the operation. However in case of the kidney from a brain dead donor, it sometimes will initially work sluggishly and it can take anything from 5 days to 6 weeks to start functioning normally.

6. If I have rejection, will I loose the kidney?

Many transplant patients experience rejection episodes at some stage, particularly in the first 4 weeks. In most cases patient will require intravenous treatment and close supervision for several days. Scans and ultrasound tests or biopsy on the kidney usually is able to diagnose the rejection or malfunction of the kidney. It should be stressed that a rejection does not mean failure but means longer stay in hospital for treatment and stabilization. Only in rare cases rejection will not respond to treatment. In these situations the patient may require removal of the transplanted kidney. This fortunately happens only rarely.

7. Can I have a normal sex life?

Some patients will experience a return of their libido (sex drive) and energy soon after following a transplant. For some patients the resumption of sexual interest will be more gradual. This is quite normal. It is usual to resume sexual activity as soon as you feel well enough and the wound is fully healed.

If you have any concerns about sexual problems, do discuss them with the doctor because they can often be remedied. Some patients worry about “Squashing” the kidney but this does not happen.
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8. What about pregnancy after kidney transplantation?

Woman will have return to normal menstrual cycle after a successful transplant surgery. Some women after transplant go on to become pregnant and have normal deliveries with perfectly healthy babies. However it is best to avoid pregnancy in the first two years after transplant operation. Pregnancy should be planned and contraceptive measures should be continued after a transplant. It must be remembered that 15% of the patients who become pregnant have deterioration in their kidney function. Careful monitoring of the immunosuppressants during pregnancy is an absolute must as Azathioprine (Imuran) can cause cleft palate / lip (splitting of upper lip) in the newborn and Cyclosporin is secreted in the milk and breastfeeding is not advised.

9. Can I play games and lead a normal life?

You can have a normal and full active life style although contact sports like - judo, karate, football, hockey, cricket, volleyball and basketball should be avoided. Sports like Badminton, table-tennis, billiards, golf and swimming can be pursued.

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