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Benefits and risks

  • Tip

    Most living donor kidneys usually start to work right away.

    Deceased donor kidneys may not start working right away. The kidney may not start working for about two to four weeks or maybe longer.

    You may need dialysis until the kidney starts working.

    More information on risks after surgery (complications) 

    Transplant benefits

    You have made a decision that will positively affect your life. Kidney transplant surgery offers several benefits, including:

    • an improved quality of life
    • no more dialysis
    • more time to do what you enjoy
    • no food or beverage dialysis diet restrictions
    • a greater chance for a longer life.

    Transplant risks

    As with any surgery, kidney transplant surgery has risks, including:

    • Kidney rejection: Even though you and the kidney donor were a match, your body may react to the new kidney. 
    • Surgery side effects
      • reaction to anesthesia (Your body may react to the medicine used to put you to sleep during surgery. More information on anesthesia.)
      • infection
      • bleeding
    • Cancer: The medicines you need to keep your body from rejecting the new kidney affects the way your body fights illness. As a result, you are at a greater risk for some types of cancer.
    • Protect your skin. Wear sunscreen and lip screen on a regular basis.
    • Continue to have regular health screens after surgery. These screens include annual physical exams; Pap smear, pelvic exam and mammogram (for women); prostate and testicular exam (for men); skin checks; and colon checks.
    • Tell your regular doctor if you notice any change in moles or have any other unusual symptoms.
    • Death (in rare cases).

    If you are a woman able to have children, it is important that you do not get pregnant for two years after transplant surgery. You should talk with your doctor before getting pregnant to tell if pregnancy is OK for you. Your doctor should review all of your medicines and make any changes if needed.