Kidney Transplant Rejection

Kidney Transplant Rejection

A kidney transplant is a life-saving procedure, that can quickly restore the quality of life and remove the need for continuous dialysis. However, just like with any organ transplant, there is a risk of kidney transplant rejection. Kidney transplant rejection is the body’s natural reaction to foreign tissue or cells. The body’s immune system, which is designed to protect it from foreign invaders, can mistake a transplanted kidney for a threat and attempt to eliminate the new organ. Kidney transplant rejection can be further divided into two groups – acute rejection and chronic rejection. Acute rejection is an immediate reaction to the introduction of a foreign kidney, while chronic rejection is a slower, but no less serious process.

Acute Kidney Transplant Rejection

Acute rejection usually occurs within the first six months after a kidney transplant. It can cause blockage in the arteries supplying the kidney with blood, leading to decreased kidney function. Symptoms of acute kidney transplant rejection include:

  • Fever
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Gain
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Itching
A kidney transplant rejection can be treated with high doses of steroids, which can suppress the body’s immune system and stop the rejection from happening.

Chronic Kidney Transplant Rejection

Chronic rejection is a slower process than acute rejection, but no less serious. It involves the gradual damage of the transplanted kidney, leading to reduced function over time. The primary cause of chronic rejection is the gradual buildup of antibodies that the body produces in response to the foreign kidney. Symptoms of chronic rejection include:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Decreased Urine Output
  • Pain in the Abdomen
  • Fluid Retention
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
Chronic rejection can be treated with high doses of immunosuppressant medication, which can slow the progression of the rejection process and improve kidney function.

Preventing Kidney Transplant Rejection

One of the best ways to prevent kidney transplant rejection is to ensure that the patient and donor tissue are matched as closely as possible. Matching allows the body to more easily accept the foreign kidney and reduce the likelihood of transplant rejection. In addition, it is important for patients to carefully follow their prescribed medication after their transplant. Immunosuppressants are crucial in preventing the body from attacking the foreign kidney, and it is vital that the patient follow their physician’s orders regarding medication. Finally, patients should attend their regularly-scheduled follow-up appointments. Doctors will be able to detect any signs of kidney transplant rejection and can take steps to prevent it from occurring.