Kidney transplant is a life-changing procedure to replace the damaged or diseased kidney with a healthy kidney from a deceased or living donor. This is the last treatment option left when all other treatments are ruled out.
Gleneagles Global Hospitals provide the best kidney transplant in India.
Although, there is a risk of rejection after the kidney transplant.
What is Kidney Transplant Rejection?
Rejection is the process of refusal of the new kidney by your own body. To protect the “foreign” kidney from rejection, the transplant team prescribes immunosuppressants (anti-rejection) medications for the rest of the lives of the recipient.
Even after the anti-rejection medicines, sometimes the body identifies the “new” kidney as a foreign kidney and attacks it. The probability of rejection happens in at least 10% – 20% of the recipients.
If you experience kidney rejection, keep the following things in mind:
- Your new kidney does not necessarily mean that it is failing.
- It doesn’t mean that your kidney transplant is unsuccessful leading to depletion of your new kidney.
With change in the immunosuppressants drugs, your kidney will start to function just like before. Most rejections are mild and easily treatable with few changes in anti-rejection medicines and dosages.
Rejection of the kidney usually takes place in the first six months after the transplant. Gradually, the risk of rejection decreases with time but may happen anytime after the transplant surgery. The majority of cases of refusal are obtained by blood testing because there is no evidence of any signs or symptoms in most cases. However, detecting early signs and symptoms of rejection can help the transplant team to make alterations in treating the rejection before it causes major damage.
Kidney Transplant Rejection Types:
There are three types of kidney rejection:
- Acute rejection:
Acute rejection may occur rapidly within the first week to 3 months after the transplant. It is said that all recipients do have some amount of acute rejection at some time. Acute kidney rejection treatment is given to the patient with an anti T-cell antibody to restore kidney function.
- Chronic rejection:
Chronic Rejection may occur gradually within one year or more after the transplant. The body’s own immune system targets the tissues and cells that are transplanted causing rejection.
- Hyperacute rejection:
Hyperacute rejection occurs immediately after the transplant when the antigens (proteins) are unmatched with the recipient with that of the donor. The tissues are removed immediately to prevent the patient from dying. This typically occurs when the wrong form of blood is given to the patient. For instance the patient is type A but the blood given is type B.
Signs of Kidney Transplant Rejection:
Following are certain signs and symptoms of a kidney transplant rejection you must be aware of:
- Weight gain
- Flu-like symptoms such as headache, chills, nausea, vomiting, aches, dizziness.
- Decrease in urine flow
- Tenderness or pain in the area of transplant
- High fever of 101°F or higher
- Increase in serum creatinine
If you experience any of the above mentioned symptoms, bring it to your doctor’s notice immediately.
It is vital to take your medicines on time and have regular clinical visits whenever required to prevent rejection.
How to identify Kidney Rejection?
After the transplant, the doctor will ask you for clinical visits at regular intervals to check if the new kidney is functioning properly and if there are any signs of rejection. As said above, most rejection doesn’t show any symptoms hence, routine blood testing is vital to pick up any signs of kidney rejection.
To confirm the rejection of the new kidney, a kidney biopsy is essential to determine if rejection is present. If the transplant team thinks there is an issue with the kidney, the following tests will be conducted:
- Kidney Biopsy
- Repeated blood tests
- Kidney ultrasound to determine the flow of blood to the kidney
If there are any significant rejection signs and symptoms, the doctor will immediately hospitalise you and treat the rejection with help of few alterations in immunosuppressant dosages. The doctor will keep you under observation for a while until the complication is under control.
What is a Kidney Biopsy?
A kidney biopsy is a medical procedure to take out kidney tissue from the transplanted kidney and send it for testing to look out for any rejection that is occurring. This biopsy is either performed by an expert radiologist or a transplant team doctor in the best kidney transplant in India.
The biopsy procedure involves numbness by medication at the area above your kidney by making a small incision in the skin for a needle to pass through it. Then the tissue from the kidney is collected for scrutiny. The tissue is sent to the lab for examination under a microscope to establish a diagnosis. This complete procedure takes about 20-30 minutes. To prevent bleeding, you’re advised to lie down for sometime after the biopsy procedure.
Treatment of rejection:
If the rejection is diagnosed, your transplant team will prescribe drugs to treat the reaction and prevent further complications. You may have to be hospitalized for 3-4 days until the situation gets better and controlled. The treatment will depend on how worse your condition is and accordingly the doctor will provide the treatment. The common treatment involves higher doses of immunosuppressants medicines.