Kidney Transplant Patient Guide
Getting the Go-Ahead
When that important phone call comes, the patient should make sure to bring the following to the hospital:
- A list of all the medications the patient is taking
- A list of the patient's drug allergies, if he has any
- The patient's health insurance information
IMPORTANT: As soon as a kidney is available, the patient should stop all eating and drinking immediately. The patient's stomach must be empty when he is taken into the operating room.
At the Hospital
After admission, the patient will have a thorough physical examination, including more blood work, a chest x-ray, and EKG, dialysis and, possibly, other tests.
Unfortunately, surgery must be postponed in some cases. The patient will be sent home again if:
- he has an infection or has developed any other medical problem that would interfere with surgery or recovery
- The donor kidney shows signs of deterioration or poor function
If surgery is postponed, the transplant team can help the patient through the disappointment. This is only a temporary setback, and the search for a new kidney will go on.
Preparing the Patient for Surgery
Before the operation, the patient may receive an enema or a laxative to clean out his intestines and prevent constipation after surgery. Hair from the chest and abdomen will be shaved to prevent infection, and an intravenous (IV) line will be inserted in the arm or just under the collarbone to give medication and prevent dehydration. The patient will also be given a sedative to help him relax and feel sleepy before going to the operating room.
Because transplantation is a major surgical procedure, the patient may need a transfusion. Today, all blood is screened very carefully; the likelihood of contracting a disease is very small. Any concerns that the patient has regarding the source of the blood should be relayed to the transplant team during the waiting period, before getting to the hospital. Most hospitals offer the option of "autotransfusion" - this is when the patient donates his own blood before surgery. His own blood is stored and then used during transplantation.
The Kidney Transplant Surgery Procedure
The patient will be under general anesthesia throughout the surgery. Once asleep, the transplant surgeon will make an incision on the right or left side of the lower abdomen just above the groin.
The surgical team will then place the donor kidney into the abdomen and connect the kidney's blood vessels to the recipient's iliac artery and vein. The surgeons will then connect the ureter to the bladder. A small drain, called a Jackson Pratt, may be placed into the abdominal cavity to drain any excess fluid.