Kidney Transplant in Turkey

Last Modified: October 13, 2020  |   Created on: July 30, 2020
Kidney, Transplants

End-stage renal disease or kidney failure, when the kidney fail to work properly, can be a life-threatening condition for the patient. Dialysis and kidney transplant are the two most prominent treatment option for this condition. While dialysis helps in removing the build-up toxin from patient’s body, it has to be performed on regular basis, as scheduled by the doctor.

Kidney transplant is a long-term solution that eliminates the dependency on dialysis and enables the patient to have a better quality of life, in addition to longevity. Kidney transplantation is a complex procedure in which a new healthy kidney from a donor is placed into the patient’s body to replace the functions of old damaged kidneys. As a person can survive with only one kidney, a single donor kidney is transplanted into the patient.

Turkey-Kidney-transplant

Kidney Transplant in Turkey 

Turkey is one of the most sought after destinations for high quality healthcare services and has emerged as a hub for organ transplantation. Started in 1975 with living kidney donors, renal transplantation is now offered by numerous hospitals across the country, including major cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Anatolia, Bursa, Konya and many others. 

Turkey ranks among the top countries in the world for living donor organ transplantation. Due to the high success and survival rate of the live kidney transplant programs, patients from Europe, Asia, America, Africa and other parts of the world, seek top kidney transplant hospitals in Turkey for their treatment. The advanced healthcare system of the country, in combination with low-cost health packages and outstanding hospitality services, ensures first-class treatment of the patient. 

Turkey offers safe and reliable medical care, using the most updated technology in the field of surgery. The transplant operation is performed by highly qualified and internationally trained doctors with extensive experience. They provide a holistic treatment to the patients with customized care approach depending on their medical condition. 

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Kidney transplant in Turkey for foreigners 

Most kidney transplant surgeries in Turkey are attributed to live donor transplants. One of the major reason for this is the low number of deceased donors in the country and long waiting lists. The Turkish Ministry of Health only allows hospitals to accept living donor for foreign patients, and they are not eligible for transplantation using a donor kidney from cadavers. They need to bring their own donors with proof of kinship, and in case of non-relative donors, a complete screening is conducted by the health committee on medical ethics.

Having a living donor allows patient to undergo a quicker and earlier transplantation, as there will be no need of a waiting list for the availability of suitable donor. For a living donor kidney transplantation in Turkey, the candidate for donation must be:

  • Up to four-degree relatives to a patient as per the applicable laws of the country. Although, it is possible to receive organs from unrelated donors, the ethics committee determine the eligibility for transplantation from these types of donors. 
  • Above the age of 18 (and there is no certain upper limit of age). 
  • The final decision will be based on the results of medical examinations and tests to determine the eligibility of the organ donor candidate.

People who have cancer, active infection, diabetes mellitus, kidney disease or any other organ failure, as well as pregnant women, are not eligible to donate a kidney. Decision for hypertensive patients is made after considering all relevant medical reports.

The legal requirements for the kidney donor surgery are:

  • The donor and recipient must have shared a bond for at least 3 to 5 years. 
  • When donor is the spouse of recipient, legal proof such as marriage certificate, photographs, or other is required
  • When the donor is a distant/close relative, a proof representing their relationship with each other must be presented. The donor can also be a fourth-degree relative of the recipient.

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Kidney Transplant Cost in Turkey 

The cost of kidney transplant in Turkey starts from USD 20,000 and may vary depending on several factors. The same procedure in Western countries, such as the UK and USA, cost more than USD 60,000 and range as high as USD 340,000. The affordability of the health packages offered by kidney transplant hospitals in Turkey allows international patients to save a significant amount of money without compromising on the quality of treatment and care. This is one of the prime reasons for international patients to choose kidney transplantation in Turkey. 

Factors affecting the kidney transplant cost in Turkey

  • Choice of hospital: location and accreditation
  • Surgeon’s experience
  • Type of transplant
  • Length of stay in the hospital and choice of room category
  • Whether dialysis is needed
  • Whether any other medical procedure or special test is required

Send your medical query to care@lyfboat.com, and receive a precise quote from the hospital of your choice. 

Kidney transplantation: An overview 

There are two bean-shaped kidneys located just below the rib cage, each side of the spine. The main function of kidneys is to filter out the waste, minerals and fluid from the blood and produce urine to remove them out of the body. When the kidneys get damaged and lose their filtering ability, the fluid and waste starts to accumulate in the body at harmful levels. This can lead to a rise in the blood pressure and may result in kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease (ERSD). Renal failure is considered when the kidneys have lost 90% of their normal functions. 

Patients with kidney failure are recommended dialysis or kidney transplant as treatment. 

A kidney transplant is an effective long-term treatment, in which a healthy kidney from a living or deceased donor is placed into a patient whose kidneys have stopped functioning properly (known as a recipient). The surgery is performed by a trained transplant team including surgeons with specialization in transplant surgery, urologists, nephrologists, and specialized nurses, who work together with social workers and transplant coordinators for the operation. 

Kidney transplant Vs Dialysis for treatment of renal failure

Chronic kidney can lead to permanent kidney dysfunction, resulting in organ failure. This can cause several health problems, and even be life-threatening, if left untreated. Kidney transplant and dialysis are two main treatment options for renal failure. However, in many cases, kidney transplant can be the most efficient treatment of chronic kidney failure. 

However, some patients with kidney failure may prefer dialysis option, especially if they are not eligible for surgery. Dialysis or kidney transplantation is required for a patient with chronic renal failure when their renal functions drop below 15% of the normal range. Kidney transplant is recommended when after exploring other options and patients does not have any contraindications. 

In dialysis, a machine is used to filter and remove the waste products from the blood, preventing waste accumulation in the body. Dialysis therapy may help save a patient’s life and sustain their survival, but it is also associated with some complications, primarily the injury of veins over time. Dialysis can only perform partial or some kidney functions, is often not considered as an alternative for kidney transplant. 

Moreover, dialysis patient remain dependent on a particular schedule and there are many other disadvantages such as following a strict diet, limitation of water intake, travel restrictions, affect social life, and even problems with development in paediatric patients. As dialysis is unable to perform many kidney functions, the patients have to use medicine to maintain blood pressure, blood production and others frequently. 

A kidney transplant is often considered as the treatment of choice for kidney failure, in contrast to a lifetime dependency on dialysis. A kidney transplant treats the chronic kidney disease and also help a person to have a better quality of life. Kidney transplant patients not only have a much higher quality, but also a longer duration of life than dialysis patients. 

After a successful kidney transplant operation and with proper care, the recipient can their lives as healthy individuals with very few restrictions. Therefore, kidney transplant surgery might be superior over dialysis regarding kidney and health of person.

Who can be a donor for kidney transplantation?

Deceased Donor

A kidney from a deceased donor comes from a person who had brain death. A person who has given consent to organ donation for transplantation at the time of death or whose families provide such permission can donate their kidneys to a person in need. The kidneys are evaluated for transplantation, and if healthy, they are removed and stored until an appropriate recipient is selected from the waiting list.

Living donor 

A family member, including brothers, sisters, parents, children (above 18 years of age), or any relative can be a living donor. A non-related person such as a close friend who wish to donate a kidney may also be considered. A series of tests will be conducted for potential donor candidates to check their health and matching tests to check compatibility with the recipients, in order to reduce chances of rejection. 

The medical evaluation process: matching tests done before the procedure

The transplant team will conduct some tests to determine whether a donated kidney may be suitable for the recipient. The evaluation includes following matching tests:

Blood typing: Although, blood-type incompatible transplants (ABO incompatible kidney transplants) are also possible, it’s preferable to have a donor whose blood type matches or is compatible with the recipient. Incompatible blood type may require additional medical treatment before and after the kidney transplant to lower the risk of organ rejection.

Tissue typing: If the blood type is found compatible, the donor has to undergo a tissue typing test, also called as human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing. HLA is a genetic marker present on cells and the test is used to compares these markers in recipient and donor. A good match reduces the likelihood of the body rejecting the organ.

Crossmatch: The final test for matching is known as cross-match which involves mixing the recipient’s blood with the donor’s blood in the lab. The test is used to determine whether the antibodies in recipient’s blood react against the antigens in the donor’s blood.

A negative cross match indicates compatibility and it means the recipient’s body is less likely to reject the donor kidney. Although, positive cross match kidney transplants are possible, it requires additional medical treatment before and after the kidney transplant to lower the risk of reaction of antibodies to the donor organ.

Other factors such as age, kidney size and infection exposure, are also considered by the transplant team while finding the most appropriate donor kidney.

How is the kidney transplant surgery in Turkey performed?

Kidney transplant involves transferring of healthy kidney from a cadaver or living organ into the recipient’s body. As related living donor transplant is the most common kidney transplant operation in Turkey, donor also undergo a surgery for removal of a kidney. The living donor transplant is performed with laparoscopic procedure, also known as closed method, in most kidney transplant hospitals in Turkey

The laparoscopic approach has the advantage that it involves small incision and less surgical trauma to tissues during the transplant surgeries. This results in less postoperative pain and problems, as well as faster recovery. The postoperative complications are also less. Thus, patients can expect a more comfortable postoperative recovery. 

During the surgery:

  • Patient is given general anesthesia, and they remain unconscious during the operation. 
  • The surgeon will make small inguinal incision (made in the groin region) to access the kidneys. 
  • The arteries and veins of this region are then prepared, and the blood vessels attached to the kidney that supply to the organ is cut. 
  • The donor kidney is placed and the blood vessels are attached to it. This causes the blood to start flowing through the transplanted kidney. 
  • The new kidney’s ureter will be attached to the bladder so that the recipient is able to urinate normally.
  • The original kidneys are usually left inside the patient’s body unless they’re causing health problems, such as high blood pressure or infection.
  • The surgeon will close the incisions with sutures and place dressing on the surgical wound.

Risks and post-operative complications of kidney transplant

  • Complications of the kidney transplant procedure include:
  • Infection 
  • Blood clots 
  • Bleeding 
  • Leakage from or blockage in the ureter (tube that connects the kidney to the bladder)
  • Failure of the new kidney 
  • Rejection of the donated kidney
  • Transmission of an infection or cancer with the donated kidney
  • Death, heart attack and stroke

Organ Rejection 

This is a major concern for a transplant recipient. The immune system of the body identifies and fights off bacteria and viruses that cause disease. Recipient’s immune system may identify the transplanted organ as a harmful foreign object, and targets the new kidney. Rejection occurs when the body fights off the new kidney.

Transplant rejection can be acute, which means it may occur within a few days to six months after transplant surgery or chronic, occur even years later. Early treatment can help manage the rejection in most cases. Anti-rejection medications are given to transplant patients to prevent rejection.

What happens after the kidney transplant surgery?

The patient is transferred to a recovery room after the operation, and is kept under observation by the medical team. They will keep a check on patient’s health, and look for signs of complications. Following this, patient is transferred to a normal ward where for initial recovery.

As the laparoscopic approach results in much less pain and other post-operative problems in comparison to open surgery, the patient will require only a short stay in the hospital. They will be able to return to their normal lives and jobs quicker after the discharge from the hospital.

The post transplant period is an important time which requires close monitoring of the kidney function. The transplant team keeps a check for early signs of rejection, and adjusts various medications based on regular tests. The vigilance is also necessary to observe for the incidence of immunosuppression-related risks such as infections and cancer.

The new kidney may start to remove the waste from the body immediately after the operation, or it sometimes takes up to a few weeks for it to start functioning properly. The kidneys donated by family members or living donors generally start working more quickly in comparison to those from the deceased donors.

Before the patient is discharged from the hospital, the transplant team provides specific instructions about the medications and aftercare. They will also discuss the initial restrictions and schedule a follow-up appointment with the surgeon. The postoperative check-ups are critical to ensure proper healing and recovery. 

After leaving the hospital, close monitoring must be followed for a few weeks to check on the functions of the new kidney and look out for signs of organ rejection. There will be frequent blood tests and medications will be adjusted in the weeks following the transplant. During this time, it is advisable to make arrangements to stay near the hospital or transplant centre, for a period of time as recommended by the surgeon.

Anti-rejection medications 

Immunosuppressant drugs or anti-rejection medications will be prescribed by the doctor to prevent rejection, in addition to other drugs that are required to reduce the risk of infection. It is important to monitor for warning signs that the body might be rejecting the kidney and immediately inform the transplant team if signs of rejection are noticed. These signs include high fever, pain, swelling, and other flu-like symptoms.

The immunosuppressant drugs might have some side effects, including:

  • Weight gain
  • Bone thinning (lead to osteoporosis) 
  • Increase in hair growth
  • Acne 
  • Increase risk of developing certain types of cancers of skin and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Outlook of Kidney Transplant

With advancement in technology and surgical techniques, the expected survival of organ transplantation has significantly increased, compared to alternatives, such as dialysis therapy. Success rate of the best Kidney Transplant hospitals in Turkey is as high as 99 percent. The patient’s quality of life after the transplant also significantly improves, and a person lives similar to a normal healthy individual. The kidney transplant patients are able to engage in work and all activities of social life after the surgery. The transplanted kidney has a life of 15-20 years or more, depending on the type of transplant and aftercare.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQs) about Kidney Transplant in Turkey

Q. Can elderly people donate kidney?

Age is an important factor for donor as the risk of surgical complications may increase. However, it is considered personally for each case, after careful evaluation of the person’s health status and review of heart, kidney, lungs and other systems. This is to ensure the there is no risk to donor’s health from the surgery.

Q. Can patients with hepatitis undergo kidney transplant surgery?

Transplantation can be performed for hepatitis patients if certain conditions regarding cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis, are ruled out. The transplant conducts a detailed examination to check for these conditions. Patients may have to continue the medicines used for the treatment of Hepatitis B after their kidney transplantation surgery. Therefore, Hepatitis B can be successfully managed post transplant. 

For Hepatitis C, patients cannot continue with the medications used to manage hepatitis C after the kidney transplant surgery, as it may cause loss of kidney functions. So, for patients with Hepatitis C, it is recommended to first undergo a complete treatment before opting for the transplant procedure. Hepatologist are consulted for Hepatitis C patients in order to determine whether the patient is eligible for kidney transplantation.

Q. Is Transplantation An Option For Diabetic Patients?

Patients with diabetic can undergo transplant surgery, but the condition needs to be managed before and after the surgery. In fact, diabetes mellitus has recently emerged as one of the most common reasons for renal failure. So, many diabetic patients require a kidney transplant surgery and their condition has to be closely followed up and managed after the transplantation.

Vanshika Rawat

Written By Vanshika Rawat

Vanshika Rawat is an experienced content developer. She is very knowledgeable in the field of science and healthcare and has worked under brilliant scientists during her higher education. Vanshika obtained her degrees in Masters in Science and Bachelors in Science (Microbiology with Hons.) from renowned institutions - Panjab University and University of Delhi.
Dr. Surbhi Suden

Verified By Dr. Surbhi Suden

Dr. Surbhi Suden is one of the founders of Lyfboat and a doctor with a renowned name in the Medical tourism industry. She has been working with international patients since 2008 and is a deeply committed professional with a long term vision of transforming the current healthcare scenarios.

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Vanshika Rawat

Written By Vanshika Rawat

Vanshika Rawat is an experienced content developer. She is very knowledgeable in the field of science and healthcare and has worked under brilliant scientists during her higher education. Vanshika obtained her degrees in Masters in Science and Bachelors in Science (Microbiology with Hons.) from renowned institutions - Panjab University and University of Delhi.
Dr. Surbhi Suden

Verified By Dr. Surbhi Suden

Dr. Surbhi Suden is one of the founders of Lyfboat and a doctor with a renowned name in the Medical tourism industry. She has been working with international patients since 2008 and is a deeply committed professional with a long term vision of transforming the current healthcare scenarios.
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