March is National Kidney Month and it’s a great time to give this vital organ some extra attention. When your kidneys are working well, they rid your body of excess fluid, electrolytes and wastes. When they aren’t working like they should, you can end up with chronic kidney failure.
Treatment options can include medications and dialysis, but for some patients, kidney transplant might be the best option. Compared to dialysis, kidney transplant gives better quality of life, lowers risk of death, has fewer dietary restrictions and a lower treatment cost.
A pre-emptive kidney transplant is a kidney transplant that takes place before your kidney function deteriorates to the point of needing dialysis. Right now, only about 20% of the kidney transplants performed in the U.S. are performed pre-emptively, but living donor transplant and paired donation kidney transplant can help more people get their new kidney before dialysis is necessary. By getting a pre-emptive kidney transplant, patients can have lower risk of rejection, improved survival rates, improved quality of life and can avoid the health complications associated with dialysis. A transplanted kidney performs 100% of a kidney’s function, whereas dialysis only performs 10%. After recovering from surgery, transplant patients are able to return to their normal schedule and activities. Dialysis patients have 3-4 treatment sessions per week taking several hours each.
What can you do to help enhance people’s knowledge of kidneys and kidney transplant during National Kidney Month? First, help us spread the word about pre-emptive kidney transplant so it can become an option for more patients facing kidney failure. Second, educate your friends and family about organ donation. Our toolkits can be a helpful resource, especially to learn more about living donation. Finally, share your story with friends and family. Maybe you’ve signed up to be a donor, maybe you’re a recipient or donated an organ to someone in need. No matter your story, use it to spark discussion about how to keep organs healthy and how to navigate transplant if you end up with organ failure one day.