5 Reasons to Choose Kidney Transplant as a Treatment Option

Receiving a kidney transplant can be life-changing for people with end stage renal disease (ESRD). Though not a cure, the potential benefits of transplantation as an alternative to dialysis are significant. A longer-lasting treatment, more time and energy, and potential for improved health all make receiving a kidney transplant a viable option for many patients. Consult with your doctor about your specific options. 

Here are five reasons why a kidney transplant should be considered as a treatment option:

1.  Potential for longer life expectancy

On average, transplant recipients who receive a kidney before ever going on dialysis live 10 to 15 years longer than people on dialysis. Because dialysis may cause health issues in some people, it is better to receive a transplant as soon as possible.

2.  Potential for better health when compared to dialysis

Dialysis, while life sustaining, can lead to other medical problems such as anemia, bone disease, heart disease, vascular disease, high blood pressure, nerve damage and infection.

3.  Fewer dietary restrictions

People on dialysis should follow a diet limiting phosphorus, sodium, potassium and protein. In addition, they should monitor their fluid intake so as not to go over their daily limit of what their kidneys can handle and flush out of their bodies. Typically, while there are still some dietary constraints, people who receive a kidney transplant have a less restricted diet, no fluid regulations and more energy.

4.  More time for...

Whatever you like! People who have received a kidney transplant often feel well enough to spend more time with their loved ones, participate in hobbies they enjoy and travel. They are also more likely to continue working compared to people on dialysis.  

5.  No dialyzing

Once the transplant process is complete and the new kidney is fully functioning, kidney transplant recipients do not have to spend any time dialyzing. People with ESRD who receive in-center hemodialysis (HD) dialyze an average of 12 to 15 hours a week. Those hours do not include traveling to and from dialysis centers. Reclaiming that time can help you get the most out of life.

Potential for a greater quality of life with a kidney transplant

Kidney transplant recipients often experience more freedom and energy than people receiving dialysis treatments due to the potential benefits such as improved health, longer life expectancy, ability to work and do things they enjoy, as well as less time receiving dialysis care.

If you're nearing the need for dialysis and would like to explore getting a transplant, start the discussion with your nephrologist with two important questions:

1.  Am I a candidate for transplant? Why or why not?

2.  What should I expect as far as the evaluation process for a transplant?

Your doctor will discuss the transplant process with you, which generally starts with being referred to a transplant center for further evaluation. While transplant requirements vary between centers, you'll most likely undergo comprehensive medical tests to determine if you're a viable candidate. If you are, then the search for a donor can begin.

Know someone who would like to donate a kidney? Visit the National Kidney Registry to start the process.

Want to become an organ donor? Visit OrganDonor.gov to sign up.