The treatment of kidney failure

After the transplant

After the operation, you are monitored very closely. Sometimes the kidney does not work immediately (primary non-function) - the doctors may decide to do a kidney biopsy. This is done under local anaesthetic and is quite safe. Even when transplant kidneys and patients are a close match, the immune system recognises the kidney as "foreign" to the body, and tries to reject it. Rejection is common - 70% of patients will have an episode of rejection in the first few weeks.

All patients who have a kidney Transplant will need to take drugs to suppress the immune system (immuno-suppressants) every day.

The most commonly used of these drugs are:
  • Cyclosporin

  • Azathioprine

  • Prednisolone
All of these can have side effects. For this reason, you will need to have regular blood tests after your operation, to check whether the balance of medication is correct. Cyclosporin can change how the skin feels and can make body hair grow faster. Prednisolone is a steroid which can cause many side effects including weight gain. New drugs are being developed which work in similar or different ways to counteract rejection - these include, tacrolimus, mycophenolate and rapamycin.
In addition, taking immuno-suppressant drugs makes the immune system less efficient - not just at rejecting the new kidney - but also at fighting off other infections. The drugs make the skin more sensitive to the effects of sunlight (sunburn and even a slightly increased risk if getting skin cancer) so it is important to protect yourself from the sun.

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