The kidneys are paired organs that lie posterior to the abdomen, in the area of the lower back. The kidneys make urine, which is transported from the kidneys to the bladder by the ureters, long muscular tubes which connect the kidneys with the bladder.
Kidney transplant may be recommended for patients with kidney failure caused by:
severe, uncontrollable high blood pressure (hypertension)
congenital abnormalities of the kidneys
other diseases which cause renal failure, such as autoimmune disease
Donor kidneys are obtained from either brain-dead organ donors, or from living relatives or friends of the recipient.
While the patient is deep asleep and pain-free (general anesthesia), an incision is made in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen. The donor kidney is transplanted into the right lower pelvis of the recipient.
The new kidney is sutured into place. The vessels of the new kidney are connected to the vessels leading to the right leg (the iliac vessels), and the ureter is sutured to the bladder.
In most cases, the recipient's native kidneys are left in place, and the transplanted kidney performs all the functions that both kidneys perform in healthy people. Kidney transplant recipients are required to take immunosuppressive medications for the rest of the lives, to prevent immune rejection of the transplanted organ.
Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.