Do You Need a Kidney Transplant?

When kidney disease is caught early, treatments like insulin for diabetes or medicines for high blood pressure may prevent further damage. But if these therapies do not help, your kidneys may become permanently damaged.

When you develop kidney failure (end-stage renal disease), you need either daily dialysis to cleanse your blood of waste and toxins or a new kidney. At Henry Ford, our transplant specialists work with you to determine the best approach for your health.

Causes of kidney failure

Common causes of kidney failure include:

  • Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Kidney cancer (also called renal cell carcinoma)
  • Hardening of the blood vessels in the kidneys (nephrosclerosis)
  • Chronic kidney infection
  • Acute kidney inflammation (nephrotic syndrome)

Screening for kidney transplant surgery

You must complete several medical tests to determine if you are eligible for a kidney transplant. Your testing may include:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests for HIV, hepatitis and antibodies
  • Blood and tissue typing
  • Chest X-rays
  • Heart tests, including:
    • Echocardiogram (ECG)
    • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
    • Stress test
  • Urine culture
  • Kidney, liver or gallbladder ultrasound
  • Abdominal ultrasound

Additional kidney transplant requirements

Before you can move forward with the kidney transplant process, you also must meet certain criteria:

  • Undergo a mental health assessment: This testing detects mental health issues that could negatively affect your transplant surgery and recovery.
  • Abstain from substance use: You must not consume alcohol or use tobacco products or prohibited substances for at least 6 months prior to your transplant surgery. You should avoid these substances after your transplant as well. If you need it, Henry Ford offers addiction treatment and tobacco treatment services.
  • Establish a support system: It is important to have a reliable network of caregivers who can look after you during your recovery.

FAST Track program

About 90 percent of kidney transplant patients who use our FAST Track program complete the necessary evaluation within 48 hours. The national average for this process is 6 weeks. One of our transplant coordinators will guide you throughout the process.

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