Recipient: Frequently Asked Questions

What do Kidneys do in the Body?

  • Filter waste from the body
  • Eliminate extra fluid by urination
  • Analyze and balance special chemicals in the body
  • Make special hormones

What causes kidney disease?

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic infection
  • Inherited disease
  • Unknown causes

What happens when the kidneys don’t work?

  • Waste stays in the body
  • Excess fluid stays in the body
  • Body chemicals are not in balance
  • High blood pressure
  • Anemia

Can dialysis take the kidneys’ place?

  •  Dialysis can:
    • Remove some of the waste and fluid
    • Balance some of the chemicals
    • Help control blood pressure
  • Good dialysis depends on:
    • Eating and drinking foods and fluid allowed
    • Taking medication correctly
    • Attendance at treatments and M.D. visits
  • A normal kidney works to clean the blood 24 hours a day for a total of 168 hours each week.
  • Hemodialysis works to clean the blood 3-4 hours per day, 3 times per week, for a total of 9-12 hours per week.

What is a transplant?

An operation to place a kidney from a donor into the body of a person whose own kidneys have failed.

  • Kidney can come from a deceased donor
    • Most common -- least successful
  • Kidney can come from a living donor
    • Less common -- best success rate

What will a well-functioning transplant kidney do?

  • Remove the waste from the body
  • Remove the extra fluid from the body
  • Stabilize the chemicals
  • Make special hormones to make blood, and control blood pressure

Why may I be turned down for transplant?

  • Active Infection
  • Cancer
  • Active substance abuse
  • Severe heart, lung, liver, or vascular disease
  • Obesity (Body Mass Index over 38)
  • Current pattern of non-compliance

How can I stay prepared for transplant while actively waitlisted?

  • Try to maintain your state of health by compliance with dialysis and medications.
  • Ensure that your dialysis center or doctor’s office sends monthly blood samples to Medical Center at Augusta University for antibody (PRA) level monitoring.
  • Notify your transplant coordinator of health, insurance, address and telephone changes.
  • Notify the transplant office if you will be out of town or away from your telephone.
  • Notify the transplant office if you no longer have the required funds saved for immunosuppressant medications or if the amount has been reduced for any reason.

What happens when I am called for transplant?

  • The coordinator will have only one hour to find you and then accept the organ.  The coordinators are almost always successful in finding you in this time.
  • You will be given time to drive to Medical Center at Augusta University at a safe rate of speed.
  • You will be admitted to the Transplant floor, 4-South and prepped for surgery.

How long is it before the kidney starts working?

  • Some kidneys start producing urine and cleaning the blood immediately, others take several days or weeks before they begin to function.
  • Living donor kidney transplants usually work sooner than deceased donor transplants.
  • Dialysis may be necessary until your kidney begins to function.

What complications may arise?


  • Occurs when the body’s immune system has recognized the kidney as something foreign to the body and tries to attack and destroy it.  Kidney rejection does not necessarily mean kidney failure.
  • A biopsy of the transplant may be necessary to evaluate the rejection.
  • Rejection episodes are treated by changing the dosages of anti-rejection medications or adding a new one temporarily.
  • Most episodes of rejection can be reversed with anti-rejection medications if they are diagnosed early enough. 

Increased susceptibility to infections/viruses

  • Immunosuppressant medications protect your transplanted kidney by inhibiting the immune system from recognizing the kidney as something foreign.  This also increases your susceptibility to infections/viruses.

Additional immunosuppressant medication side effects

  • Included side effects are toxicity to the kidneys, tremors, headaches, elevated blood pressure, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Your transplant nephrologist will alter your medications to avoid side effects and still provide protection for your kidney.