What Happens if my Kidneys Fail?

By: Jose Valdes, MD

DHR Health Transplant Institute

If your kidneys fail, treatment is needed to replace the work your kidneys can no longer do. There are two types of treatment for kidney failure: dialysis and transplant. For many people whose kidneys have failed, a kidney transplant can offer more freedom and a better quality of life than dialysis.

What is a kidney transplant?

During a kidney transplant, a healthy kidney is placed inside your body to do the work your own kidneys can no longer do. The healthy kidney can come from someone who passed away and chose to donate, called a deceased donor, or from someone who has two healthy kidneys and chooses to donate one, a living donor.

A successful kidney transplant may allow you to live longer and live the kind of life you were living before you developed kidney disease. For many patients, there are fewer limits on what you can eat and drink, though you should follow a heart-healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight to help your new kidney last. Your health and energy should also improve. Studies show that people with kidney transplants live longer than those who remain on dialysis.

There are also risks associated with kidney transplants, including the risk of surgery. After the transplant, you will need to take anti-rejection medicines for as long as your new kidney is working, and these medications can have side effects. You will have a higher risk for infections and certain types of cancer following transplant surgery.

Although most transplants are successful and last for many years, how long the new kidney functions properly can vary from one person to the next. Depending on your age, many people will need more than one kidney transplant during their lifetime.

If you would like more information or are interested in scheduling an appointment for a consultation, please call DHR Transplant Institute at (956) 362-5433