Risks

Kidney transplantation can treat advanced kidney disease and kidney failure, but it is not a cure. Some forms of kidney disease may return after transplant.

The health risks associated with kidney transplant include those associated directly with the surgery itself, rejection of the donor organ and side effects of taking medications (anti-rejection or immunosuppressants) needed to prevent your body from rejecting the donated kidney.

Deciding whether kidney transplant is right for you is a personal decision that deserves careful thought and consideration of the serious risks and benefits. Talk through your decision with your friends, family and other trusted advisors.

Complications of the procedure

Kidney transplant surgery carries a risk of significant complications, including:

  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Leaking from or blockage of the tube (ureter) that links the kidney to the bladder
  • Infection
  • Failure of the donated kidney
  • Rejection of the donated kidney
  • An infection or cancer that can be transmitted with the donated kidney
  • Death, heart attack and stroke

Anti-rejection medication side effects

After a kidney transplant, you'll take medications to help prevent your body from rejecting the donor kidney. These medications can cause a variety of side effects, including:

  • Acne
  • Bone thinning (osteoporosis) and bone damage (osteonecrosis)
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive hair growth or hair loss
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Increased risk of cancer, particularly skin cancer and lymphoma
  • Infection
  • Puffiness (edema)
  • Weight gain