Kidney Transplant Complications

December 13, 2021
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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A kidney transplant is an important surgical procedure that can help people whose kidneys are no longer functioning properly. Like any surgical procedure, there are potential risks and complications involved. It is important for anyone considering any type of surgery to make this decision on as informed a basis as possible.

Whether you are considering a kidney transplant or you are already scheduled to undergo this procedure, the following information can help you be more educated and engaged.

Kidney Transplant Overview

Kidney transplant surgery, also known as a renal transplant, is a procedure that places a healthy donor kidney into the body of someone with dysfunctional or non-functional kidneys. The kidneys help to filter waste out of the blood and are needed to create urine. Reasons for kidney failure include chronic high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic inflammation, and kidney disease.

A kidney transplant is an alternative to extended dialysis, which uses an external machine to do the job of the kidneys. Kidney transplants can be performed for patients already on dialysis or preemptively for patients who are likely to require it. Typically, patients only require one donor kidney to replace the two original organs.

Physicians will very often recommend kidney transplant surgery as the preferred treatment over lifetime dialysis, but there are still potential risks and complications that patients should be aware of. In general, patients with advanced age, severe heart problems, a history of alcohol or drug abuse and other problems may not be suitable candidates for kidney transplants due to the elevated risk of complications.

4 Potential Kidney Transplant Complications to Know About

Understanding the following potential kidney transplant complications can help you make a more confident treatment decision and prepare for a procedure on an informed basis.

1. Rejection of the Kidney

Known as a rejection episode, this is when the body does not accept the donated kidney as part of the body. Our bodies are very precisely tuned to function in a certain way, and even a slight difference in a matched kidney can cause the immune system to attack it, or for it to not function properly. Anti-rejection medicine has made rejection episodes a less frequent kidney transplant complication than in previous years, but it can still happen even when all precautions have been taken.

Watch out for any problems urinating, weight gain, any swelling or pain in the area, as well as fever, and let your physician or surgeon know immediately.

2. Infection

Risk of infection is a complication associated with any surgical procedure, but one reason it develops from kidney transplants is due to the anti-rejection medication patients have to take. The body will treat transplanted organs as a foreign object, causing an immune response that attacks the organ. Although anti-rejection medications counter this, it also weakens the immune system against other infections, such as bacteria.

Signs of infection to watch for include fever, chills, pain, visible swelling around the surgical site, and cloudy urine. Notify a physician or your surgical team immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

3. Blood Clots and Bleeding

This is another potential complication that is common to nearly all types of surgeries, including organ transplants. Some amount of bleeding is always involved with surgery, due to the need for an incision and moving soft tissue and organs. More severe blood loss can happen due to surgical error, including accidental cutting of an artery or blood vessel, or complications that extend the length of the procedure.

Blood clots can also form that block the flow of blood into the new kidney, or other parts of the body. If blood clots form in the legs, it can cause a dangerous condition known as deep vein thrombosis. Patients with an elevated risk of blood clots may require blood thinners to promote healthy blood flow after kidney transplant surgery.

4. Blockage or Leaking of the Ureter

A potential kidney transplant complication is urinary blockage or leaking. Due to inflammation or other problems, the ureter, which connects the kidney to the bladder, may become narrow and disrupt urinary flow after a kidney transplant.

To prevent this, surgeons can place a stent, which keeps this passageway open and prevents normal urine flow. As is often the case, the stent can cause a complication of its own in the form of leakage. This may require follow-up surgery.

Talk to Your Surgeon About Kidney Transplant Complications

There are other potential complications of kidney transplant that can vary from patient to patient, depending on lifestyle and health factors. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to discuss potential complications with your surgeon. If you or a loved one have an increased risk of complication, or complications develop after kidney transplant, arranging for home care services can be helpful.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help. We have been enforcing precautionary measures and following the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for COVID-19 to ensure the safety and health of our clients and employees.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.