Questions I should ask my transplant doctors immediately prior to kidney transplantation?

It is important for patients and family members to understand the basics of kidney transplantation. Hence patient or family members could pose few important questions to the transplant team: “What Questions I should I ask my transplant doctors immediately prior to kidney transplantation?”

All patients who are undergoing kidney transplantation have the right to know some details and specifics about kidney transplantation that will impact their outcome. Following questions to be considered:

  • Please tell me some details about the Deceased Donor Kidney, which I will be receiving? Transplant doctors will not be able to provide specifics about the donor. Patient can ask following questions
    1. Is this kidney is from a local area hospital or coming from a different city?
    2. Is this kidney from a young or middle or older donor?
    3. What about kidney quality with reference to KDPI number?
    4. Will this kidney require biopsy before transplantation?
    5. Is this kidney from a brain dead donor or some one whose heart has stopped?
    6. Is this kidney suitable for me?
  • Is the kidney from a Public Health Service (PHS) high-risk donor? Transplant center should provide information if the organ is coming from a PHS high-risk donor. Certain organ donors are categorized as PHS high-risk and may have certain infections, which can potentially, transmitted to the recipient. However, all centers perform many sensitive tests to detect various asymptomatic infections in the donor before proceeding with the transplantation. Overall, there is a slightly higher chance of developing certain infections when using PHS high-risk donor. The risk of developing infection after transplantation with such a donor is very minimal and the benefit of transplantation is much higher.
  • Will my kidney function improve immediately after transplantation? Not all transplanted kidney will function immediately. Approximately 25-30% of kidney transplant recipients will require dialysis after kidney transplantation. The transplant team will be able to provide that probability (low, medium or high) of post-transplant dialysis requirement prior to transplantation.
  • How long I will need dialysis after transplantation? Transplanted kidney may not function immediately. Patients may require dialysis any where between few days, 1-2 weeks and occasionally for more than 2 weeks after kidney transplantation.
  • How long my hospital stay will be after my kidney transplantation? It is important for patient to know how long they will be in hospital after kidney transplantation. It could be 4 -10 days or rarely it can be even up to few weeks, especially if complications were to arise after kidney transplantation.
  • What immunosuppressive medications will I received after kidney transplantation? Each transplant center will have their own protocol. Most of the centers administer Cellcept and Tacrolimus with or without prednisone as maintenance immunosuppressive medications after kidney transplantation.
  • What will be my follow-up care after discharge from hospital? After discharge patient will have to do blood test at least 2-3 times a week and come for follow-up-1-3 times a week for few weeks after kidney transplantation. Each center is different and will be able to provide their blood test regimens and follow-up requirements.
  • What Family support will I need after kidney transplantation: Support from family members and or friends are necessary for assisting basic needs at home, administration of medications, checking blood sugars, driving for follow-up visits, etc. Support required will vary form one patient to another depending on his or her health status.

Above questions and answers provides some guidelines to patients and their family members.

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