Kidney Transplantation: Past, Present, and Future


 Real People



Why would you need a kidney transplant in the first place? According to Dr. Alfrey, a kidney and pancreas transplant surgeon at Stanford Medical school, there are three main ways that lead people to need new kidneys.

  • chronic kidney failure
  •  congenital conditions


Kidney transplantation is a miracle of modern medicine, but there are many steps that one must take before it can actually happen. The first step is to find a compatible donor. Click on the words below see pamphlets produced by the University Of Michigan Transplant Program that explain the process in detail.

This process, however, usually takes a long time because there is a shortage of available donors. Donors are usually one of two types: living related or non-living and un-related. The organs for this second type of transplantation are obtained from individuals donating their organs after they have passed away. The process of donation of organs involves many ethicalissues. There is a large waiting list that is run by UNOS.


There are many precautions that take place before the transplant. However, even when the organs are extremely good matches, after the new organ is in place there is potential for something called rejection. This happens when the recipientâs immune system notices that the new organ is foreign and attacks the new graft. Look at the page that describes this for more information.

 Transplant recipients therefore take different medications (click to see the page on drugs) to prevent these negative immune reactions from taking place. These medications are called immunosuppressants, because they supress the recipientâs immune system enough to allow the new organ to take root in the new host.

 [Home] [History] [Real People] [Process] [Xeno] [Ethics] [Links]