Humans have got a pair of bean-shaped kidneys located on both sides of their spinal column. The kidneys play various important roles in keeping the body healthy including:
- Filtration of the blood to eliminate metabolic wastes from regular bodily activities, excretion of waste as urine, and return of water and chemicals to the body as needed.
- Blood pressure is controlled by the release of many enzymes such as renin.
- The hormone erythropoietin is released from the interstitial cells of the kidneys to stimulate the synthesis of red blood cells.
Although kidneys are vital organs, humans can live almost normally with only one kidney. Kidney transplantation is a surgical procedure that involves removing a kidney from one person and implanting it into another one who is suffering from end-stage kidney disease. When compared to dialysis, kidney transplantation is the best therapeutic option for people with end-stage renal illness because it provides better long-term survival and quality of life.
Rates and Numbers
The number of the performed kidney transplants varies significantly among countries. A study conducted in 2019-2020 showed that Spain had the highest rate of kidney transplant procedures at 57.7 per million population followed by Denmark. Whereas Bulgaria showed a very low incidence of kidney transplantation (1.2 per million). Documentation centers in the US showed that more than 515,000 kidney transplants have been performed in the United States since 1988. In 2019, a net of 24,502 kidney transplants were done in the United States, including 6915 from living donors and 17,586 from deceased donors. In 2019, 244,000 people had a functional transplanted kidney.
The current form of kidney transplantation has resulted from a series of modifications and research which eventually lead to a higher success rate. Over the last three decades, the success rate of the performed kidney transplantation has increased significantly. At the moment, it is estimated that the survival rate of patients a year after getting kidney transplantation is 95% and up to 90% after three to five years. Although the lifespan of the patient who underwent kidney transplantation is a bit below average, it is much better than dialysis.
Life expectancy is one of the most frequently asked questions by patients who consider kidney transplantation. First of all, the expected life span of kidney recipients is variable and differs from one patient to another according to his general health condition, kidney matching, and time of transplantation. Statistically, the life expectancy for a recipient of a deceased-donor kidney is 8 – 12 years while the recipient of a living donor kidney is 12 – 20 years.