What is plasmapheresis for an incompatible kidney transplant?

Plasmapheresis is a procedure utilized when a kidney transplant recipient’s bloodstream has high levels of antibodies that might attack a donor kidney and cause rejection. The procedure involves removing these antibodies to levels low enough to facilitate a safe kidney transplant.
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Plasmapheresis is a process that removes harmful antibodies from the blood so they don’t attack and damage the new kidney. It is a procedure similar to dialysis that removes the plasma portion of the blood where antibodies are located. The number of plasmapheresis treatments required by the recipient before surgery varies depending on the amount of harmful antibodies in their blood.

After each plasmapheresis the recipient receives an intravenous infusion of immune globulin to replace antibodies needed to fight infections and help prevent harmful antibodies from returning. Once the antibodies against the donor’s blood type decrease to very low levels, the transplantation can take place.

To prevent the antibodies from returning and damaging the kidney, the recipient has several plasmapheresis treatments and doses of immune globulin after the transplant. In addition, the recipient’s spleen may be removed during the transplant procedure through tiny incisions. The spleen is the organ where antibodies are produced. Some antibodies may return after the transplant but do not appear to damage the new kidney.

Continue Learning about Kidney Transplant

Kidney Transplant

One of the most common transplant procedures in the United States, kidney transplantation is a treatment option for those with advanced and permanent kidney failure. The first kidney transplant was performed in the 1950s, and sinc...

nce then doctors have learn much about minimizing the side effects of medications and how to prevent the body from rejecting the new organ. Healthy kidneys remove wastes and excess fluids from blood, which balances out the chemicals in the blood and keep it clean. When the kidneys fail, the body is unable to remove the harmful wastes and they could damage the body. Kidney transplantation is not for everyone. Certain conditions make the procedure too dangerous or unlikely to be successful.

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.