With advances in kidney transplant methods and improvement in transplant success, a kidney transplant is now widely considered to be the best way of treating chronic kidney disease for many people. A transplant may offer the best chance of returning to a more normal life, but it is not suitable for everyone.
Factors that can affect a person’s suitability for a transplant include:
- General health
- History of heart disease
- History of blood circulation problems
- History of cancer
- Emotional/psychological factors
- Evidence that a person does not or will not follow the medical treatment suggested
There are two types of kidney transplants:
- Transplant from a live donor
- Transplant from a person who has died suddenly
Following a series of tests, a person found suitable for a transplant is put on a transplant waiting list until a compatible kidney is found. The length of time a person will have to wait is hard to predict and will depend on how hard the person is to match and how many kidneys become available.
Before any transplant, some of the recipient's blood and some of the donor’s cells are mixed together to see if the recipient's blood will damage or kill the donor’s cells. This is called a cross match and it is done to make sure there are no substances in the blood, called cytotoxic antibodies, that may cause the recipient's body to reject the transplanted kidney. A positive cross match test means that the donor (whether live or deceased) is not compatible with the recipient, and therefore cannot donate a kidney.
Overall, transplant success rates are very good. Transplants from deceased donors have an 85 to 90% success rate for the first year. That means that after one year, 85 to 90 out of every 100 transplanted kidneys are still functioning. Live donor transplants have a 90 to 95% success rate. Long-term success is good for people of all ages.
More information on organ donation is available in the Organ Donation section of this website.