6 doctors weighed in:

My sister is in the hospital with kidney failure. Does she need an organ transplant right away? If she can't get a kidney transplant, will she be able to survive with just dialysis until she can get a donor?

6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Michael Hutchens
Anesthesiology
2 doctors agree

In brief: The

The short answer is almost certainly "no", although every patient is different, and critical care patients by definition have complex medical stories.
Acute kidney injury (or aki, also known as "acute renal failure") is very common in hospitalized patients, and particularly patients in intensive care (although you do not say your sister is actually in intensive care) there are degrees of kidney failure ranging from mild and quickly reversible, to permanent and complete. The kidneys are very sensitive to what is going on around them -- they're sort of the "canary in a coal mine" of our organ systems. So they tend to protest severe illness early by not making enough urine and allowing toxic byproducts to build up in the bloodstream. Fortunately, usually hospital acquired acute kidney failure goes away with minimal intervention. When it doesn't, the function of the kidneys can often (depending on the other medical circumstances) be replaced with a machine which removes the things the kidneys usually remove from the blood(dialysis). Dialysis isn't a perfect replacement for functioning kidneys by any means, but it's good enough for the short term, and many people live for decades on dialysis. Not every patient can benefit from dialysis -- the choice of whether to initiate dialysis is made on an individual basis. Kidney transplant is usually only made available to patients who have complete and permanent kidney failure, are dialysis dependent, and are doing very well otherwise. I hope you have found this helpful, and that your sister feels better soon.

In brief: The

The short answer is almost certainly "no", although every patient is different, and critical care patients by definition have complex medical stories.
Acute kidney injury (or aki, also known as "acute renal failure") is very common in hospitalized patients, and particularly patients in intensive care (although you do not say your sister is actually in intensive care) there are degrees of kidney failure ranging from mild and quickly reversible, to permanent and complete. The kidneys are very sensitive to what is going on around them -- they're sort of the "canary in a coal mine" of our organ systems. So they tend to protest severe illness early by not making enough urine and allowing toxic byproducts to build up in the bloodstream. Fortunately, usually hospital acquired acute kidney failure goes away with minimal intervention. When it doesn't, the function of the kidneys can often (depending on the other medical circumstances) be replaced with a machine which removes the things the kidneys usually remove from the blood(dialysis). Dialysis isn't a perfect replacement for functioning kidneys by any means, but it's good enough for the short term, and many people live for decades on dialysis. Not every patient can benefit from dialysis -- the choice of whether to initiate dialysis is made on an individual basis. Kidney transplant is usually only made available to patients who have complete and permanent kidney failure, are dialysis dependent, and are doing very well otherwise. I hope you have found this helpful, and that your sister feels better soon.
Dr. Michael Hutchens
Dr. Michael Hutchens
Thank
Dr. Amy Friedman
Surgery - Transplant
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Dialysis - stabilize

Kidney transplantation is not done urgently because of the availability of dialysis to achieve stability.
This provides the opportunity for cautious education of the recipient +evaluation of all transplant related issues. A possible living donor also needs education and evaluation, and the time to carefully consider options. If no live donor is available, the wait time for a kidney is years.

In brief: Dialysis - stabilize

Kidney transplantation is not done urgently because of the availability of dialysis to achieve stability.
This provides the opportunity for cautious education of the recipient +evaluation of all transplant related issues. A possible living donor also needs education and evaluation, and the time to carefully consider options. If no live donor is available, the wait time for a kidney is years.
Dr. Amy Friedman
Dr. Amy Friedman
Thank
Dr. John Powelson
Surgery - Transplant
1 doctor agrees

In brief: No and yes

Kidney failure is often reversible.
If not, renal replacement therapy (dialysis or transplantation) is required. Dialysis allows the patient to survive without a kidney and can be done immediately. Transplantation leads to better quality of life and long-term survival, but it requires a donor, either brain-dead or living. So often dialysis is required first before transplantation.

In brief: No and yes

Kidney failure is often reversible.
If not, renal replacement therapy (dialysis or transplantation) is required. Dialysis allows the patient to survive without a kidney and can be done immediately. Transplantation leads to better quality of life and long-term survival, but it requires a donor, either brain-dead or living. So often dialysis is required first before transplantation.
Dr. John Powelson
Dr. John Powelson
Thank
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