10 Things To Consider Before Kidney Transplant

If you have kidney disease or kidney failure, you may be facing the tough decision of going on dialysis or getting a kidney transplant.

Both procedures have pros and cons, but in most cases, a kidney transplant is the best option.

“Dialysis removes toxins from the body as the kidneys would,” said Geisinger nephrologist Maria Camila Bermudez, MD. “But, you need to get dialysis periodically to stay healthy. Kidney transplants can last the rest of your life if you take care of them. Many people feel that kidney transplants give them more freedom and improved quality of life.” 

To make sure the procedure goes smoothly, your body needs to be in good shape. You also want to be mentally ready to donate an organ. This is how you can prepare your body and mind before the surgery:-

  1. Get active. If you don’t already exercise, now is a good time to start. A daily walk, bike ride, or swim will help get your body in shape and improve your lungs. Good fitness will also help you recover faster after your operation.
  2. Eat right. A well-rounded diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is good for your body, but it’s especially important when you’re about to have surgery. Ask your doctor if you need to follow a special diet in the days or weeks before the operation. You’ll likely need to avoid alcohol right before and after your procedure.
  3. Stop smoking. Kick the habit at least 4 weeks before your surgery. Smoking can raise your risk for complications and make your wounds heal more slowly. Ask your doctor about aids to help you quit, like the nicotine patch or gum, or about counseling.
  4. Ask your doctor about medicines. You’ll need to avoid drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and blood thinners for a week before your surgery. These medicines affect blood clotting, which can make you more likely to bleed during the procedure. Find out if you need to stop taking any other medicines, including supplements and over-the-counter drugs.
  5. What to bring to the hospital

For convenience during your hospital stay, consider the following suggestions.

  • Bring a current list of your medicines, including the dosages and the times you take them.
  • If you have a health care directive document (living will), bring a copy.
  • Bring personal care items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, denture cleanser, comb, skincare products, deodorant, make-up and/or shaving kit.
  • If you wear glasses or contacts, bring storage containers for them. Put your name on each container.
  • If you wear hearing aids, bring a storage container and extra batteries. Put your name on the container.
  • If you want to wear a gown or robe other than what the hospital supplies, bring your own.
  • Bring shorts or undergarments to wear under your hospital gown or robe.
  • Bring clothing to wear home, including socks, shoes (supportive with non-slip soles), undergarments, shirt, and loose pants or a sweatsuit. Bring a warm coat if it’s cold outside.
  • Leave valuables at home or with your family. You may want to bring a little money for buying newspapers or magazines.
  • All the rooms have a television and phone. You may want to bring a book or magazines.
  1. What you may want to think about if you live alone

For convenience, consider the following suggestions.

  • Find someone to do your yard work.
  • Arrange to have your paper and mail delivered to your door rather than curbside, as needed.
  • Arrange transportation to the grocery store, community events, family activities, and doctor and clinic appointments.
  • Find someone to help care for your pet, if needed.
  • Prepare and freeze a few meals before your surgery.
  1. Anesthesia information

General anesthesia puts you to sleep so you do not feel the surgery. An anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) will give you the anesthesia.

The anesthetic (a type of medicine used) affects your entire body. You will receive the anesthetic by breathing it or through an injection (shot). A breathing tube helps you breathe oxygen while you are asleep. The anesthesiologist or CRNA stays with you during the entire surgery.

After surgery, you may have a few side effects from the anesthesia. They are:

  • dry mouth
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • hoarseness
  • nausea
  • drowsiness.
  1. What to do the day before surgery

Tell your doctor if you have any changes in your physical condition (sore throat, cold, fever, dental problems, urinating problem) or skin condition (rash, cuts). Surgery may need to be canceled.

  1. What to do the morning of surgery
  • Take your morning medicine(s) as directed. You may have to take your medicine(s) with a small sip of water.
  • Take a shower (or bath) with the special soap.
  • Arrive at the hospital two hours before your surgery.
  1. When you go to the hospital
  • If you are getting a kidney from a deceased donor, the final cross-match will be done on the day of surgery.
  • If you have a living donor, both you and the donor will have a final cross-match at your pre-surgery visit one week before surgery.
  • Dialysis will be arranged if you need it before surgery.
  • You will have a physical.
  • You will wait until the result of the cross-match is known. If the result is negative, you can have the surgery that day. If the result is positive, surgery will be canceled.
  • You and your family will be taken to the Pre-Operative Care Center.
  • You will be taken to a surgery prep area where you will get ready for surgery.
  • You will wear a hospital gown.
  • You will meet with the medical members of your transplant team, such as the surgeon, nurse, and anesthesiologist (a doctor who gives the anesthesia).
  • The nurse will start an intravenous (IV) line in your hand or arm.
  • You will receive medicines through the IV to help you relax.
  • The anesthesiologist will give you a general anesthesia to put you to sleep.
  • You will be taken to the operating room.
  • Your family will be taken to the waiting area.


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