Who is able to have a kidney transplant?

A kidney transplant is a treatment option for many patients who have long-term kidney failure

Key points

  • A kidney transplant is a major operation
  • To be able to have a kidney transplant, you must be well enough to cope with the surgery
  • Unfortunately, not everyone with kidney failure will be fit enough
  • Your kidney doctor and transplant team have to be confident that you are likely to benefit from a transplant
  • Other treatment options may be safer for some patients

Who can have a kidney transplant?

A kidney transplant is usually the best treatment for kidney failure in patients who are fit enough for the operation. But the benefits must outweigh the risks.

To have a kidney transplant:

  • You must have long-term kidney disease
  • You must be well enough to cope with major surgery
  • The transplant needs to have a good chance of success
  • You must be able to take the required daily medicines needed after a kidney transplant, including immunosuppressant medicines

Why a kidney transplant might not be your best option 

A kidney transplant has lots of advantages but it also has some disadvantages, which may make it too risky for some patients.

 The main disadvantages are:

  • A kidney transplant is a major operation lasting 2-4 hours
  • The surgery can place a strain on your heart or lungs
  • You have to take powerful immunosuppressant medicines afterwards, which can lead to other serious medical problems
  • Some patients experience psychological difficulties afterwards

Learn more about the risks of a kidney transplant

Reasons why you might not be able to have a kidney transplant

Common reasons why a kidney transplant may not be the right treatment for you include:

  • You are too ill or frail to cope with the surgery and aftercare
  • You have recently had cancer, a serious infection, a heart attack or a stroke
  • You may struggle taking the immunosuppressant medicines after a kidney transplant

Other treatment options

If your kidney doctor feels a transplant is too risky, they might advise that you stay on dialysis or take medicines to control your symptoms.

Learn about other treatment options

Discuss your options with your doctor

Speak to your kidney team to find out what treatment is best for you.

More information

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