Kidney transplants are one of the most common and successful transplantation surgeries done now. The success rates are very high and a study shows that 85% of kidney travel surgeries come out successful without any complications.
The survival rate is estimated between 5 to 25 years. According to the survey, 82% of people who undergo kidney transplants live beyond 5 years.
Often, people leave their countries in search of other countries where they can get better surgery and treatment procedures, especially when their countries lack good healthcare systems and long waiting lists. Also, a kidney transplant is an expensive transplant surgery and people look for places they can get the surgery done at cheaper rates.
The Philippines is one such country where a kidney transplant can be considered. But before we go into looking at the prospects of a kidney transplant in the Philippines, let’s take a look at kidney transplants in brevity.
What is a Kidney Transplant?
A kidney transplant is a surgery performed to replace failed kidneys with a healthy donor kidney or kidneys. The kidney is bean-shaped, about the size of a first, located below the rib cage. There are two kidneys positioned on both the left and right sides of the spine.
Their function is filtering products taken into the body and blood and removing waste materials in the forms of excess minerals and fluid and excreting them by producing urine. They help maintain the body’s fluid and electrolyte balance.
Once this function is lost, waste and an excessive amount of fluids and minerals that can cause harm to the body can amass in your body, leading to high blood pressure and consequently to kidney failure. One kidney can lose its function, leaving the other to function, meaning you can function with one kidney for as long as possible.When both kidneys lose 90% of their ability to function, that is kidney failure, which is the end-stage kidney (renal) disease.
The causes of kidney failure are mostly:
- Glomerulonephritis, which is the inflammatory condition of the kidneys that leads to scarring of the filters within them.
- Chronic high blood pressure.
- Polycystic kidney disease.
- Kidney stones.
- Chronic kidney infections.
A kidney transplant is the best treatment for end-stage kidney disease. However, when kidney failure occurs, dialysis–use of a machine to remove waste from the bloodstream–is performed to keep the patient alive, till a donor kidney can be found for a transplant.
A donor kidney can either be from a living or deceased person. To get a donor for a kidney transplant, your blood type and human leukocyte antigen (HLA)–a group of antigens located in your white blood cells and responsible for the immune response of your body–must match with that of your donor’s. This would reduce the risk of the new organ failing after the surgery.
Not everyone is eligible for a kidney transplant. If there is an underlying critical health condition, it can be very risky and will most likely lead to the organ’s rejection and subsequent failure after the transplant. Also, some unhealthy patterns and medications can keep you at high risk of a kidney transplant.
Some of the conditions that can cause a complication for the transplant include:
- Weak immune systems or immunodeficiencies.
- Severe infections like Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, etc
- Liver diseases
- Chronic cardiovascular disease
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Hard drugs
- Excessive alcohol intake.
Your surgeon will go through your medical history and you will get to run tests to ascertain your chances. If you are okay with surgery, you would choose, under the guidance of your surgeon, which type of donor would be suitable for you; living or deceased.
You will be placed on a waiting list after the test has been done to establish your blood type and HLA. You have to wait till a donor matching your types is found. During the waiting period, you will have to undergo dialysis. Once the donor’s kidney is found, your surgery would be scheduled almost immediately.
You would be cleaned out and given general anaesthesia, to keep you asleep through the procedure. Your heart rate, blood level, and blood pressure will be monitored all through the surgery.
- An incision is made just underneath your rib cage on one side of your abdomen.
- Damaged kidneys will be disconnected from blood vessels and bladder, and removed.
- The donor kidney will be placed into your body and its blood vessels will be attached to the blood vessels in the lower part of your abdomen.
- The kidney’s ureter will be attached to the bladder with stitches.
- The incision will be sutured back, wiped clean, and bandaged.
Note that unless your failed kidneys are creating discomforts like pains, high blood pressure, or with the presence of kidney stones, they can leave in your body. Their blood vessels and ureters will just be disconnected.
You will be moved to the ICU to recover and placed on painkillers to ease the pain. Also, anti-rejection drugs can be administered to you, to prevent your immune system from rejecting the new organ. You will be required to stay a few weeks in the hospital where you will be monitored until you deem fit to be discharged.
Prospect in the Philippines
According to the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, in the Philippines, so far, over 2,500 kidneys had been transplanted in 15 hospitals. However, in the country, there are over 7,000 end-stage renal disease patients on renal transplant waiting lists and the lists continue to grow. In Metro Manila alone, there are more than 200 patients on the waiting list
In 2008, the Philippines closed all doors to foreigners coming in for kidney transplants. The country has not recorded a lot of foreigners for the transplant ever since. The waiting list in the country is not so encouraging for medical tourists in search of quick medical treatments. Also, compared to other countries, the cost of kidney transplants is hardly affordable. It may not be as high as the USA, but countries like India, Turkey, Thailand offer lesser prices. Nonetheless, the country is making efforts to build up its facilities to the standard of recognition by equipping her hospitals and hiring more skilled doctors. Also, the government is looking forward to making the cost affordable. All these efforts are aimed towards discouraging its citizens from leaving to other countries, and at a point, drawing in foreign patients to the country.
Cost of Kidney Transplant in the Philippines
Although an actual amount can not be stated due to certain factors that can make it very such as the hospital, surgeon, tests involved, medications, etc, the cost of the transplant is estimated at 1 million to 1.5 million Filipino pesos which are approximately $20,000 to $31,000.
Hospitals for Kidney Transplant in the Philippines
Hospitals that carry out kidney transplants surgeries in the Philippines are often reached through the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), a tertiary referral hospital. The institute links patients to other hospitals that can take care of their situation in their region.