• The Kidney Transplant Process at Lahey

    One of the most exciting calls you can receive while on the kidney waiting list is when your surgeon tells you that a kidney has become available. This call can come at any time of day and any day of the week, so it is important for you to remain reachable at all times – at work, at home and even on vacation.

    We recommend you give Lahey transplant team the phone numbers of close friends and family as well, in case you can’t be reached directly.  

    Kidney Transplant Preparation 

    Because it is impossible to predict when a deceased donor kidney will become available, we recommend that you are always prepared for when the time comes. An overnight bag should always be at the ready with clothes and items you might need at the hospital. We also suggest that you make a pre-arranged transportation plan with friends or family if necessary.

    You’ll need to travel to Lahey as instructed by the surgeon. Often you'll be asked to come immediately after the phone call. You'll be asked to stop eating right away because your digestive tract should be empty during the transplant procedure. The quality of the deceased-donor kidney deteriorates over time once it is outside the body. Therefore, the faster it is transplanted, the faster the kidney function will recover after the surgery, and the fewer the complications.  

    At the Hospital 

    You will arrive a few hours before surgery. Your family will be allowed to accompany you in the pre-op area, where you’ll undergo a few preliminary tests.

    You’ll be brought into the operating room on a gurney, where the anesthesiologist will place you under general anesthesia. Once you’re asleep, the anesthesiologist will insert a tube in your throat that will connect to a machine that helps you breathe (ventilator). You will also have a tube inserted (Foley catheter) into your bladder via the urethra to allow urine to drain during the long surgery, and a nasogastric tube through your nose to drain the contents of your stomach.

    The Kidney Transplant Procedure 

    The operation takes about three hours. An incision will be made in your lower abdomen, either to the left or right side, depending on the side the surgeon has decided to place the kidney. There is no evidence that indicates one side is better than the other.

    The new kidney will be placed through the incision and connected to the appropriate blood vessels and the ureter will be connected to your bladder. Your two natural kidneys will typically remain intact in their own position. The transplant surgery will not involve your own kidneys.

    In most instances, the transplanted kidney will begin working almost immediately, slowly at first, then picking up more function over the course of a few days. Sometimes, the transplanted kidney is slow to start functioning and you may require some dialysis treatments until the transplanted kidney starts to function on its own. In general, it may take up to six weeks for the transplanted kidney to reach its best function. 

    Your Hospital Discharge 

    We anticipate you’ll be able to walk the day after surgery. Your hospital stay will typically range from 3 to 6 days. We will ask you to arrange for a friend, family member or transport service to take you home.

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