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Peritoneal dialysis is a procedure that people do at home every day. It involves piping a special fluid into the belly. This fluid collects waste and excess salt and water from the blood. Then, the used fluid drains out of the belly. Before people can have peritoneal dialysis, they need surgery to have a tube put in their belly. The tube allows the fluid to get in and out of the belly.

Hemodialysis is a procedure in which a dialysis machine takes over the job of the kidneys. The machine pumps blood out of the body, filters it, and returns it to the body. Before people can have hemodialysis, they need surgery to create an “access.” An access is a way for the blood to leave and return to the body.

What is a kidney transplant?

A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure to place a kidney from a live or deceased donor into a person whose kidneys no longer function properly.

Only one donated kidney is needed to replace two failed kidneys, making living-donor kidney transplantation an option. If a compatible living donor isn’t available for a kidney transplant, the patient’s name may be placed on a kidney transplant waiting list to receive a kidney from a deceased donor.

A kidney transplant is used to treat kidney failure (end-stage kidney disease), a condition in which kidneys can function at only a fraction of normal capacity. People with end-stage kidney disease need either to have waste removed from their bloodstream (dialysis) or a kidney transplant to stay alive.

During a kidney transplant

  • Kidney transplants are performed with general anesthesia
  • The surgeon makes an incision and places the new kidney in the lower abdomen. Unless the patient’s own kidneys are causing complications such as high blood pressure, kidney stones, pain or infection, they are left in place.
  • The blood vessels of the new kidney are attached to blood vessels in the lower part of the abdomen, just above one of the legs.
  • The new kidney’s ureter – the tube that links the kidney to the bladder – is connected to the bladder.

After a kidney transplant

  • Doctors and nurses monitor the patient’s condition in the hospital’s transplant recovery area to watch for signs of complications. The new kidney will make urine like the patient’s own kidneys did when they were healthy. Often this starts immediately. In other cases it takes several days.
  • Close monitoring is necessary for a few weeks.
  • Transplant recipients need a number of medications after kidney transplant. Drugs called immunosuppressant’s help keep the patient’s own immune system from attacking the new kidney. Additional drugs help reduce the risk of other complications, such as infection, after transplant.