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How can I decide if a kidney transplant is right for me?

To decide if a kidney transplant is right for you, discuss it with your nephrologist, or kidney doctor. Indications for kidney transplant would be end-stage renal disease, or renal failure, in which maintenance dialysis is required. Transplant may be an option for you if your estimated glomerular filtration rate is consistently less than 30 and irreversible causes have been ruled out. However, as with any transplant surgery, people who undergo kidney transplant are on lifelong immunosuppression therapy, which means taking medications daily for the rest of your life. These medications may increase your risk of developing infection, cancer or worsening cardiovascular disease, so this conversation should be had with your nephrologist to see if you are a candidate and if a transplant is right for you.

To decide if a kidney transplant is right for you, consider the following benefits and drawbacks of kidney transplant: 

Benefits:

  • no dialysis
  • no fluid or diet restrictions (unless you are diabetic)
  • more energy
  • more freedom to travel
  • return to work
  • live a more “normal” life

Drawbacks:

  • Kidney transplants are not a cure. You have to take medications for the rest of your life. The medications have side effects that affect everyone differently.
  • You may get diabetes from one of the medications.
  • You may get complications such as infection or rejection.
  • The kidney may not work at all or for only a short period of time.

Discuss transplantation with your family and doctors to be sure you are making the decision that is right for you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.