Kidney transplants-An option for those with chronic renal failure (1153)

Key points below

(An Option for Those with Chronic Renal Failure) 

Why do I need to know about kidney transplants?

Your child is living with chronic renal failure. The first treatment often used is dialysis. Your child may have been treated with dialysis.  If so, it may be time to make choices about further treatment. One option is a kidney transplant. This handout will give you information about kidney transplants. Be sure to discuss this information with the health care team.

What is a kidney transplant?

Surgery is done to put a new kidney into your child’s body. The new kidney is donated from another person. This new kidney will take over for your child’s failing kidneys. There are many benefits with a transplant such as:

It is important to remember that a kidney transplant is one type of treatment for kidney failure.  It is not a cure.

Who can have a kidney transplant?

There are very few problems that prevent a transplant.  If there are no physical problems that would prevent a kidney transplant, your child with chronic renal failure could have the transplant. Before having a kidney transplant, your child will have a transplant evaluation.  This evaluation help the health care team see if there are any problems. Blood tests are also needed to “match” or select a donated kidney that is best for your child’s body. 

What blood tests need to be done?

Blood type. There are four basic blood types. Letters are used to describe blood types.  They are Type A, Type B, Type AB or Type O.  The donated kidney must come from a person with a blood type that is compatible with your child’s blood type.  In some cases, an incompatible blood type can be used.  This must be full evaluated by your child’s transplant team to decide if it is a safe option. 

If your child's blood type is: Your child can get a kidney from (compatible blood types):
A A, O
B B, O
AB AB, A, B, O

HLA type. HLA stands for Human Leukocyte Antigens. This test tells about your child’s genetic markers. It is sometimes called tissue typing. HLA is like a fingerprint. The closer the HLA fingerprints match, the better match there is between your child and the donated kidney. The health care team will work to find a donated kidney that matches your child’s HLA as closely as possible. 

Antibodies. Our immune system makes antibodies. Antibodies fight a cell that is not from your own body.  These are called foreign cells.  When antibody levels are low, it is easier for your child’s body to accept a donated kidney.

What about my child’s general health?

The health care team will examine your child and ask questions. Many tests will be needed, including blood tests, x-rays and ultrasounds. This will help them know if your child is physically ready for a transplant. 

Who is the health care team?

Many different people may be on the health care team depending on your child’s needs. 

Where do donated kidneys come from?

Living donor
The kidney comes from a person who is living and is at least 18 years old. The donor must go through an evaluation process to see if they are able to donate a kidney to your child.
Related living donor.  A member of your family such as a father, mother, sister or brother.
Unrelated living donor. Someone you know who agrees to give your child a kidney, such as a friend.
A date for this type of transplant can be planned.

Deceased donor
The kidney comes from a person who has just died. The donor is carefully checked for health problems before the kidneys are removed for transplant.
Your child’s name will be put on a waiting list. The wait might be just a day or two, or it could take a year or more. There is no way to plan exact time or date when a kidney will be available.  Because of this a member of the health care team must always know where you and your child can be reached.

More about the transplant waiting list 

There are people all over the United States on the transplant waiting list. When a kidney from a deceased donor becomes available, the transplant list is checked. The list has all of the information needed to make the best match. There is no way to know how long your child will have to wait. Waiting for a kidney can be a hard thing to do. It may cause a lot of stress for you and your family. 

What should my child do while waiting?

More about the transplant surgery

Before surgery

Surgery.  Most often the surgery takes 3 to 4 hours. 

After surgery

There are two main problems (complications) that may happen after surgery:

Why does my child need medicine to prevent rejection surgery?

Special medicine called immunosuppressant or antirejection medicine is very important after transplant surgery. This medicine works to keep the cells in your child’s body from attacking the cells of the new kidney. This type of medicine may cause weight gain, swelling, growing more hair on your child’s face and body, and acne. Even though these things may happen, it is very important for your child to always take their medicine. Your child will need to take these medicines for life to keep the new kidney working well.

What happens after surgery?


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Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.