At Mayo Clinic, the kidney transplantation process involves several steps before, during and after your kidney transplant surgery.
Mayo Clinic doctors trained in kidney transplantation and other members of the transplant team evaluate you and determine whether a kidney transplant may be safe and beneficial for you. Your evaluation may last two or three days and may include:
Once you're approved for a kidney transplant, remain in close contact with the transplant center, and notify your transplant coordinator of any significant changes in your medical or social situation. Also, maintain your general health as much as possible. To maintain your health, you may need to lose weight, quit using tobacco products and exercise regularly three to four times a week.
After you're approved for a kidney transplant, you'll be encouraged to seek out potential living donors among your friends and family. If a suitable living donor is identified, your transplant may proceed immediately.
If you and the transplant team can't identify any suitable living donors, you'll be placed on a waiting list for a deceased donor kidney. You usually will be on a waiting list for one to four years. Your waiting time for a kidney transplant may vary because of your blood type, tissue type and several other factors. While waiting for a deceased donor kidney, you'll need to stay in close communication with the transplant team, and be prepared to get to the hospital quickly after you receive notice that a donor kidney is available.
Before your transplant, you'll have important blood tests to ensure that your body is compatible with the potential donor's organ and to check that antibodies in your body don't react to the donor's cells.
In some cases, surgeons may still be able to perform a kidney transplant if your antibodies react against your donor's cells (positive crossmatch kidney transplant) or if you have an incompatible blood type (ABO incompatible kidney transplant).
During kidney transplant surgery, doctors give you a general anesthetic and a special incision pain-blocking anesthetic. Your surgeon makes an incision in your lower abdomen and places the donor kidney near your bladder in your lower abdomen. Surgeons restore blood supply to your new kidney by connecting your kidney to your blood vessels. Your surgeon then attaches the tube that connects the bladder and kidney (ureter) to your bladder. Your own kidneys aren't removed. Your new kidney often begins to function immediately.
After your transplant, you'll usually stay in the hospital for three to four days to recover. Your transplant team will watch your recovery process during your stay in the hospital.
Read more about kidney transplant.
Mayo Clinic transplant staff can answer your questions about the transplant process and post-transplant life.
Read more about getting ready for your transplant.
Watch Mayo Clinic transplant surgeon Mark Stegall, M.D., discuss ABO incompatible and positive crossmatch kidney transplants on YouTube.