Kidney Transplantation - Acıbadem Healthcare Services
Kidney Transplantation

Kidney Transplantation

A kidney transplant is the best treatment option for kidney failure. ACIBADEM Healthcare Group is a leading destination for kidney transplant surgery in Turkey.

Kidney transplant surgery

A kidney transplant is an operation for patients with kidney failure. Healthy kidneys have many functions, including filtering waste products and toxins, secretion of erythropoietin that prompts the production of red blood cells, the release of renin that helps control the blood pressure, and many more. When the kidneys are not working well, it affects vital body functions and causes problems to the heart, lungs, and bones. Advanced loss of kidney function is known as kidney failure or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). People suffering from kidney failure need dialysis or a kidney transplantation to stay alive. Dialysis can be a lifesaving option, but the machine cannot replace all functions of a healthy organ. Studies show that successful kidney transplantation provides better quality of life and life expectancy compared to dialysis. In the long run, it is also the most cost-effective alternative to dialysis.

During kidney transplant surgery, the recipient receives a healthy organ from a deceased or living kidney donor. The new kidney is placed in the abdomen and connected to the vessels and the bladder. Damaged kidneys are usually not removed unless they cause some problems. Kidney transplant is major surgery and success rates depend on many factors, including the experience of the transplant center and its team.

Living kidney donation

All over the world, despite all efforts, there is a shortage of organs from deceased donors. Generally, people can live healthy lives with just one healthy kidney. Therefore, a living donor kidney transplant can be an alternative to the long waiting lists for some patients. Healthy people willing to help a loved one can opt for a live kidney donation. In the best case, donor and recipient have the same tissue type and compatible blood types. However, today there are effective solutions for successful living-donor transplants even if the donor is not compatible. Sometimes the recipient-donor couple may be paired with another one, and donated kidneys can be exchanged or ‘swapped.’ This is called paired donation or crossover transplant. Paired donation ensures that each recipient receives a matching kidney.

In Turkey, international patients can only apply for living donor kidney transplants. They must have a donor who is willing to donate gratuitously. Donor criteria for living kidney donors require age above 25, close relatives up to 4th degree or approved by the ethical committee, with healthy kidney function, and in good overall health. At Acibadem Kidney Transplant Center, detailed preoperative evaluation makes living donation a safe procedure – a donor would not be allowed to donate if there is a risk for his or her health in the future.

Kidney transplant procedure

Before living donor kidney  transplant, both the donor and the recipient will be subject to detailed lab tests, image diagnostics, and physical exams to assess their eligibility for the surgery. Once the evaluation is completed, the operation can be scheduled. At Acibadem Kidney Transplant Center, the donors can benefit from minimally invasive surgery called laparoscopic donor nephrectomy. It is performed through a small incision for faster recovery. Advanced surgical techniques allow removing the kidney through a single port, the belly button, or the birth canal in women (NOTES procedure). The recipient is usually brought to the intensive care unit to be closely monitored immediately after the transplantation. If the kidney comes from a living donor, it usually starts working right away or soon after the surgery.

Pediatric kidney transplant

Infants and children of all ages might need a kidney transplant. In pediatric patients, the most common causes of kidney failure are congenital anomalies and genetic conditions. Inborn disorders of the urinary tract that affect multiple organs may pose significant difficulty for a kidney transplant in children. They might require additional surgeries, such as open vesicostomy and bladder augmentation. Acibadem Transplant Center has broad experience with neonatal and pediatric kidney patients, including complex cases and combined liver-kidney transplants. Our graft and patient survival in pediatric kidney transplants is 100%.

Kidney transplant recovery time

After the kidney transplant surgery, the patients have to spend a few days in the hospital to recover. They are closely monitored for any complications, such as bleeding or infection. Most patients can walk the day after the transplant surgery. At Acibadem Kidney Transplant Center, the donor usually stays in the hospital for two days. The recipient is discharged after seven days. Transplanted patients can go back to their normal life within a few weeks. They will have to take medicines called immunosuppressants for the rest of their lives to prevent the body from rejecting the new organ. Regular follow-up examinations will be needed during the first months after surgery to ensure that the kidney works well and the immunosuppressive drugs are well adjusted.

Post-kidney transplant

Life after kidney transplantation is similar to life before kidney failure. After a successful renal transplant, the recipient does not need dialysis, has no significant food restrictions, and feels in good overall condition. Still, these patients have to follow some rules to keep the transplanted organ healthy. Active living, healthy habits, and a diet low in salt and fat are recommended for a lifetime. Immunosuppressive medications should be taken every day as prescribed. The most common reason for organ rejection is an irregular intake of anti-rejection drugs. Kidney transplant rejection symptoms are often mild; therefore, regular tests and checkups are a must. In most cases, experienced physicians can handle organ rejection. 

How long does a kidney transplant last?

A transplanted kidney has no ‘expiry date.’ It may last for a lifetime in some patients, while others may need several transplants throughout their life. The life of a transplanted organ depends on many factors, including the general health of donor and recipient, whether the donor was living or deceased, the cause of transplantation (a persisting condition could harm the new kidney just like the natural one), etc. Even if the transplanted kidney fails, the patient can still start dialysis or opt for a second transplant called retransplantation. 

In 2020, a woman living in France celebrated 50 years of active life after a kidney transplant. A man transplanted in 1971 believes he is one of the longest surviving kidney transplants in the UK. Another man transplanted in June 1977 is considered to be the longest survival in Asia. These are all transplants performed many years ago. Nowadays, surgical techniques and immunosuppressive drugs are much more sophisticated, and kidney recipients can expect even better outcomes.

Kidney transplant success rates

Kidney transplantation outcomes have improved dramatically in the last decades. Developments in surgical techniques, advanced understanding of the immune system and immunosuppressive regimens, and better anti-microbial treatment options contribute to a higher kidney transplant survival rate. However, kidney transplantation is still a highly specialized medical intervention. Success rates depend greatly on the medical center and the team responsible for the operation and long-term follow-up. At Acibadem Kidney Transplant Centers, the graft survival rate is 99% after the first year and 94% in the fifth year. The patient survival rate is respectively 99% first year and 95% fifth year.

Kidney transplant in Turkey

Turkey is a global leader in renal transplantation, with more than 3500 kidney transplants performed per year. Since cadaver organ donation is not suffıcıent globally, 80% of kidney transplants in Turkey are done with living donors. Transplant programs and success rates are well regulated and strictly monitored by the Ministry of Health. The transplantation centers are regularly assessed, and their success rate should be more than 85%. Many patients from all over the world prefer Turkey for kidney transplantation due to the extensive experience, affordable cost, and high success rates of transplant centers.

Why ACIBADEM for kidney transplant?

Our kidney transplant surgeons perform more than 300 surgeries a year, with success rates above the world’s average. Acibadem Kidney Transplant Center can also offer:

  • Advanced surgical techniques. Minimally invasive surgery and innovative methods improve comfort, reduce the risk of infections and deliver better outcomes.
  • Paired kidney donation. Crossover transplants are performed frequently at ACIBADEM Kidney Transplant Centers with excellent results. 
  • Neonatal and pediatric kidney transplants. Our transplant team has extensive expertise in complex and challenging cases.
  • The latest technology. State-of-the-art equipment is available in our operating rooms, intensive care units, and lab facilities.
  • Exceptional patient care and international patient service. From the point of first contact to post-op checkups, patients coming from abroad are guided and supported by our International Patient Center to ensure they feel at home and at ease on each step of the kidney transplant process.

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