Kidney Transplants

Tyneside Kidney Patients Association

What is a kidney transplant?

Key Points:

A kidney transplant is the best treatment for kidney failure

Kidney transplants have been performed for over 50 years

Kidney transplants are not perfect, they may fail and there are side effects

Not everyone with kidney failure is suitable for a transplant


A successful kidney transplant is a more effective treatment for kidney failure than either peritoneal dialysis or haemodialysis. However, not everyone is suitable for transplantation, and not everyone who is suitable is suitable all the time. Also, before a transplant can take place, it is necessary to find an appropriate donor kidney, which may not be easy.

The first kidney transplant operations were performed in the 1950s. The operation itself is straightforward, with a good success rate. After a transplant, patients will need to take drugs daily for the rest of their lives. If a transplant fails, patients can go back to dialysis or possibly have another transplant.

The Benefits

A kidney transplant can deliver the best quality of life to people with established renal failure (ERF). There is no doubt that for the right person at the right time, a transplant is the best treatment option. A ‘good’ transplant provides about 50% of the function of two normal kidneys (compared with only about 5% from either type of dialysis).

The most obvious advantage of a transplant to people with kidney failure is freedom from dialysis. If a transplant works well, dialysis becomes a thing of the past. There are also no particular fluid or dietary restrictions after a transplant. Most people who have had a transplant feel better and have more energy than they did on dialysis. They are more able to cope with a job and many find that their sex lives improve.