What are the drawbacks of a live donor kidney transplant?

A live or deceased donor kidney transplant involves having an operation. 

All operations have some risks.

If you have a live or deceased donor kidney transplant, you will need to take anti-rejection medication every day for the rest of your life, or while your transplanted kidney is still working. 

You will also need blood tests to check your transplanted kidney in case the medication needs changing.

Anti-rejection medication has some side effects. 

The most serious of these is the increased risk of infection. This means that you might get infections more easily after your transplant. There are other side effects that you need to think about including an increased risk of diabetes, bone disease (osteoporosis) and some cancers. 

Live donor kidney transplants

You need somebody to offer to donate you their kidney. 

If you don’t get any offers straight away, you might need to think about how you can talk to someone about donating their kidney. There is more information about how to ask someone to donate a kidney in this guide.

Most transplants from live kidney donors are successful, but approximately 1 in 20 fail in the first year.

Deceased donor kidney transplants

There are a number of drawbacks if you wait for a deceased donor kidney transplant:

  • you could wait for a long time (in 2017 it was 2–4 years depending on blood type)
  • you don’t know when you are likely to be offered a kidney
  • your health could change while you are waiting for a deceased donor kidney transplant and you would have to come off the waiting list
  • there is a higher risk that you could have to have dialysis after your transplant
  • your long term outcomes are slightly worse than someone who has a live donor kidney transplant.