Kidney transplantations

​In Finland, the first kidney transplantation was performed in 1964. By the end of 2012, 6183 kidney transplants had been done at HUCH. On average, 170 kidney transplants are performed every year.

Indications for kidney transplantation

The most common indications for kidney transplantation are glomerulonephritis, cystic kidney disease, and type 1 diabetes. Each of these conditions represents approximately 20% of the total. In approximately 10 per cent of the cases, the cause of a surreptitiously developed renal failure cannot be determined. The remaining 30% comprise a number of miscellaneous diseases.

In the 1980s, the majority of kidney transplantation patients were between 30 and 40 years old. In the 1990s, the largest age group was 40 to 50 year-olds, and in the 21st century, most kidney patients have been between 50 and 60 years old. Today, even patients over 70-years old receive kidney transplants.

Primary contraindications for a kidney transplantation are poor cardiac, circulatory, or neurological conditions causing the patients to be too weak to endure the surgery and the subsequent immunosuppressive therapy. Other contraindications include chronic infectious diseases and malignant diseases.

After a kidney transplant

Dialysis treatment can be discontinued after successful kidney transplantation. Patients can lead a normal life, work (even manual labour), and do exercises and sports. Immunosuppressants must be taken until death, but usually the doses can be gradually decreased over the years.

Results

In Finland, the survival rate after a kidney transplant has improved over the years, and the current results are high in international comparisons. More than 95% of the kidneys transplanted in the 21st century function one year after the operation, and 70% are expected to function after ten years.

Long-term results have also improved. According to current estimates, more than half of these kidney transplants will function 20 years after the operation.