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What Can You Expect after a Kidney Transplant?

If You are the Donor:

Where the incision (cut) is often made for kidney removal
Location of incision (cut) for kidney removal

  • You can leave the hospital 2 to 4 days after surgery.
  • If your kidney was removed with open surgery, you will have a single cut about 8 inches long. 
  • Laparoscopic surgery is done using thin tubes put into your body through small cuts. If your doctor used laparoscopic surgery, you will likely have 4 smaller cuts, with the largest about 4 inches long.

If You are Receiving the Donor Kidney:

  • You will have a catheter (a thin tube to allow urine to drain) in your bladder for a few days.
  • You will have an IV feeding tube through your arm or neck vein for a few days. 
  • You will likely be up, out of bed and walking within 24 hours.
  • You can likely leave the hospital within a week.
  • Urine often flows at once. But sometimes the new kidney does not work well right away, so you may need dialysis for a short time.

Results

Nine out of 10 transplanted kidneys work well at the end of 1 year. About 4 out of 100 kidney transplants stop working each year after that. The kidney is always at risk for rejection, so it is vital to take all of your drugs as you are told by your health care provider. A kidney from a living donor has a better chance of lasting than one from a nonliving donor. The chance that kidney disease will come back in the transplant depends on the original cause of kidney failure.

  • In autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease or other inherited disorders, disease does not come back.
  • In hemolytic uremic syndrome (a rare health problem marked by kidney failure), the return of kidney disease is likely. 
  • In rapidly progressive focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, scar tissue replaces the glomeruli, the kidney's tiny filters.