Why is it needed

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Kidney transplant is done to treat permanent kidney failure (or end stage renal disease). Complete kidney failure occurs when less than 10% of your kidneys are working. Medically speaking, permanent kidney failure in adults is defined as an irreversible glomerular filteration rate (GFR) of less than 10 ml/min or a serum creatinine level greater than 8 mg/dl.

Many diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidneys), polycystic kidney disease etc. can slowly and progressively damage the kidneys resulting in chronic renal failure. If chronic renal failure continues to progress it eventually causes complete loss of kidney function. Damage to the kidneys may result in its inability to:

  • remove toxic waste products and extra fluid from the body
  • regulate blood pressure
  • maintain a proper balance of fluid and salts such as potassium, calcium and phosphorous

When this happens, the toxic waste products and excess minerals accumulate in the bloodstream making the person ill.  Hence, when the kidneys cannot work normally any longer the person will require treatment in the form of dialysis or kidney (renal) transplant.

Once a person develops permanent kidney failure he/she is kept on dialysis. Dialysis is a process, in which a machine is used to filter waste products and excess water from the blood. But there are certain limitations of dialysis:

  • It does not perform all the vital functions of a kidney for e.g. producing various chemicals and hormones required for regulation of blood pressure, production of red blood cells etc.
  • It requires strict dietary restrictions on amount of salt, proteins and the fluid patients take.
  • It is a life-long process and hence expensive.

Therefore, for people of all ages with irreversible kidney failure, kidney transplantation is a lifesaving alternative to dialysis. Kidney transplant is more cost-effective and it not only provides a life free from dialysis but requires fewer fluid and diet restrictions. It also helps to perform the essential functions of the kidney and offers a better life expectancy and quality of life than dialysis.