How Long Can You Live With a Kidney Transplant? Survival Rates

Medically Reviewed on 3/25/2022
How Long Can You Live With a Kidney Transplant
According to studies, 1-year survival rates for kidney transplants range from 93%-98%, and 5-year survival rates range from 83%-92%

Life expectancy after a kidney transplant varies depending on several factors. According to studies, 1-year survival rates for kidney transplants range from 93%-98%, and 5-year survival rates range from 83%-92%.

What factors play a role in kidney transplant survival rates?

Many factors play a role in kidney transplant survival rates:

  • Donor type: Transplants received from living kidney donors have higher success rates than those received from deceased kidney donors.
  • Donor age: Advanced donor age can have a negative effect on both immediate kidney function and long-term outcomes.
  • Kidney preservation time: An increase in the kidney preservation time can delay the functioning of the kidney graft in the recipient and affect lifespan.

The risk of cardiovascular events in kidney transplant recipients is 50 times higher than that of the general population, and the prevalence of hypertension is higher than 80%. Therefore, it is important to treat diseases that increase your risk of heart diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes. Existing heart conditions can also be worsened by complications of antirejection (immunosuppressant) medications.

Can you live a normal life with a kidney transplant?

Studies report that people with a kidney transplant live longer and have a better quality of life than those who continue dialysis

With a successful kidney transplant, you may be able to live a normal life with fewer restrictions than you had while suffering from kidney disease or being on dialysis. 

However, you will need to follow a healthy diet recommended by your doctor according to your medications, test results, weight, and blood pressure.

What is the recovery process after a kidney transplant?

You may have to stay in the hospital for several days after a kidney transplant or longer if there are complications with the surgery. 

After the transplant, you will be prescribed antibiotics, as well as immunosuppressant medications which prevent your immune system from rejecting the new kidney. Remember to take all the medications as instructed.

You will also need to have regular follow-ups with your kidney transplant team. Blood tests may need to be taken several times a week, with the frequency reducing over time. These checkups are to ensure that your kidneys and immunosuppressant medications are working well. Your doctor may check for signs of transplant rejection such as:

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What are the potential complications of a kidney transplant?

Although a kidney transplant is always a better option than dialysis, it is a major surgical procedure that comes with risks both during and after the surgery. Possible complications include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Damage to adjacent organs
  • Transplant rejection

The risk of transplant rejection can be reduced with the use of newer immunosuppressant medications. However, rejections may still occur, so it is important to get yourself tested regularly as advised by your transplant team.

You will have to take immunosuppressant medications for the rest of your life, which may cause side effects such as:

You will also need to continue getting regular checkups to assess your kidney function.

Is a kidney transplant better than dialysis?

A kidney transplant is always the recommended option if you have end-stage renal disease and are eligible for this major surgery. If successful, a kidney transplant offers better survival rates and quality of life than dialysis. 

However, since there is a shortage of kidney donors, you may have to wait for a long time before being able to get a matching kidney donor.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/25/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Kidney Transplantation. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/430128-overview#a5

Kidney transplant. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidney-transplant

Heldal K, Hartmann A, Lønning K, et al. Should patients older than 65 years be offered a second kidney transplant?. BMC nephrology. 2017 Dec;18(1):1-8.