Renal Transplant Service

Transplant services are for those patients who have, or need to start, life-long Renal Replacement Therapies. This department looks after renal patients who have opted for kidney transplant.

Consultants and a specialist nurse, the Renal transplant co-ordinator, care for these patients. Kidney transplant operations are undertaken at the transplant unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.

Patients may change to Peritoneal Dialysis or Haemodialysis at a later stage if and when the transplant fails.

Kidney transplants explained

Kidney transplantation is the transfer of a healthy kidney from one person (the donor) into the body of a person who has little or no kidney activity (the recipient). A person needs only one kidney to survive (indeed some people are born with only one working kidney). So the donor can be living, or recently deceased.

There are two main problems with kidney transplantation. First, there is a shortage of organs from people who have died, so that not everyone with kidney failure receives a transplant, even if they are medically suitable.

This shortage can be partially made up by using living donors, usually blood relatives or partners of the person with kidney failure.

The second problem with kidney transplantation is that the recipient’s body recognises the transplant as if it were an invader, and tries to destroy it. This is called rejection.

The recipient of a kidney transplant has to take a powerful cocktail of drugs to prevent rejection and treat the complications of the anti-rejection drugs.

Medicines After a Kidney Transplant

At one year after kidney transplantation, over 9 out of 10 transplants are still working, and over 9 out of 10 patients are still alive. At five years after a transplant, about 6 out of 10 transplants are working and 8 out of 10 patients are alive.

On average, kidney transplants will last 10 years from a deceased donor and 12-15 years from a living donor

Recipients of kidney transplants can develop other problems. Diseases of the circulation are common, because of the effects of kidney failure and the anti-rejection drugs.

It is important that transplant patients try to stop smoking, keep to a healthy diet and have their blood pressure and cholesterol levels monitored. The anti-rejection drugs increase the risk of getting certain types of cancer, especially in the skin (avoid direct sunlight) and neck of the womb (cervix), so women should have regular cervical smears.

If you have any queries about renal transplantation, ring Mandy Wilkinson, Transplant Coordinator on 01603 289909.

To see educational videos and further information on renal transplantation follow this link