Kidney Transplant Procedure and Recovery

Many kidney dialysis patients facing kidney failure choose to undergo a kidney transplant rather than live a lifetime on dialysis. Compared to dialysis, a kidney transplant can provide:

  • Improved quality of life
  • Lower risk of death
  • Less dietary restrictions
  • Reduced treatment cost

Should you decide to pursue kidney transplantation, there is much to consider:

  • Determining your candidacy
  • Knowing the risks and costs
  • Selecting a trusted transplant center
  • Preparing for, undergoing and recovering from the procedure itself

The kidney transplant procedure: Finding a match

This phase of kidney transplant is all about compatibility. It involves blood typing, tissue matching and blood cross matching (to determine if your blood antibodies may react against antigens in the donor’s blood). You can receive a kidney donation from a person living or deceased, related or not to you. Living-donor kidney transplantation is possible because only one donated kidney is needed to replace two failed kidneys.

What if a compatible living donor isn’t available? Your name may be placed on a kidney transplant waiting list to receive a kidney from a deceased donor. The waiting period will depend on the degree of matching/compatibility between you and the donor and several other factors. Some people get a match within several months, while others wait several years.

Preparing for your kidney transplant procedure

Whether you’re waiting for a donated kidney or your transplant surgery is already scheduled, strive to stay healthy. Maintaining good habits can help you be ready for the surgery, and may even speed your recovery. Be sure to:

  • Take all medications as prescribed
  • Stick to diet and exercise guidelines
  • Keep all appointments with your health care team
  • Stay as active as possible, including relaxing and spending time with family and friends

Recovering from kidney transplantation

Here are a few things to expect after your surgery:

  • Hospitalization – Your condition will be closely monitored in a hospital for signs of complications as your new kidney starts to produce urine. Expect soreness or pain around the incision site as you heal. You will likely be in the hospital for about one week, but with diligent post-operative care, most people return to work and other normal activities within three to eight weeks after transplant.
  • Follow-up care  Frequent check-ups are vital to the progress of your recovery. You may need blood tests several times a week, or to have your medications adjusted in the weeks after your transplant.
  • A lifelong medications routine Following your surgery, you’ll take anti-rejection medications to help keep your immune system from attacking and rejecting your new kidney. Other drugs can help reduce the risk of other complications like post-op infection.

The leading kidney doctors just so happen to be in South Texas

At South Texas Renal Care Group, we are proud to be the premier provider of pre- and post-operative care for kidney transplant in San Antonio. Our board-certified doctors won’t settle for being anything less than the very best nephrologists. This is how we consistently provide optimal treatment outcomes for your highest possible quality of life.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 844-739-2897 or click here to use our online form.

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What Is Peritoneal Dialysis?

Your kidneys are the keys to keeping your body in balance by eliminating waste, maintaining chemical levels and controlling blood pressure. For people with chronic kidney failure and end-stage renal disease, dialysis treatments, which mimic kidney function, are needed for the rest of their lives.

You may be familiar with hemodialysis, which pumps blood out of the body to an artificial kidney machine, then returns blood to the body via tubes that connect you to the machine. During peritoneal dialysis, the inside lining of your abdomen acts as a natural filter.

More about peritoneal dialysis

Before peritoneal dialysis, a plastic catheter is surgically placed into your abdomen (belly) to create access. During the treatment, your abdominal area (peritoneal cavity) is slowly filled with dialysate through the catheter. The blood stays in the arteries and veins that line your peritoneal cavity. Extra fluid and waste products are drawn out of your blood and into the dialysate. There are two types of peritoneal dialysis:

  • Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis CAPD – The only type of machine-free peritoneal dialysis treatment, CAPD can be done while you go about your normal activities such as work or school. You do the treatment on your own, by hooking a plastic bag of cleansing fluid to the tube in your abdomen.
  • Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD) – During APD, a machine (cycler) delivers and drains the cleansing fluid for you. This is usually done at night while you sleep.

Dedicated to being the best kidney doctors, right here in South Texas

At South Texas Renal Care Group, we are proud to be the leader in providing both inpatient and outpatient dialysis care in San Antonio. We exist to serve the people of San Antonio and South Texas through personalized and exceptional kidney care through the latest technologies. Each day, our team of board-certified doctors strives to be the very best nephrologists to deliver optimal treatment outcomes and an excellent quality of daily living. Come see the difference our brand of advanced, compassionate kidney care can make in your life!

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 844-739-2897 or click here to use our online form.

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What Are the Common Symptoms of Kidney Problems?

Would you know if you have kidney problems leading to chronic kidney disease? Pinpointing kidney problems can be somewhat tricky. Here’s why: The symptoms of slowly-developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be caused by other illnesses. And since your kidneys are so adaptable, they can compensate for lost function; masking signs and symptoms until irreversible damage has occurred.

On the other hand, if kidney damage progresses rapidly, kidney problems can come on quickly and result in acute kidney failure. Acute kidney failure can occur in people hospitalized for any reason, and it’s even more common in people receiving intensive care.

Do you have kidney problems? Know the symptoms

Some of the signs and symptoms of CKD may seem mild or nonspecific. But if they persist or begin to interrupt your activities, see your doctor immediately. The symptoms of kidney problems can include:

  • Chronic nausea
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Problems sleeping
  • Changes in how much you urinate
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles
  • Persistent itching
  • Chest pain (caused by fluid buildup around the lining of the heart)
  • Shortness of breath (caused by fluid buildup in the lungs)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) that’s difficult to control

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the problems listed above, make an appointment with your doctor—especially if you have a history of CKD or a medical condition that increases your risk of kidney disease. In this case, your doctor will likely monitor your blood pressure and kidney function. He or she may also order urine and blood tests during regular office visits.

Advanced, dedicated kidney care in South Texas

At South Texas Renal Care Group, we are proud to provide expert care for chronic kidney disease in South Texas. Our priority is, quite simply, to make leading-edge kidney care accessible and convenient to the people of San Antonio and neighboring areas. Whether you need treatment for chronic kidney disease, vascular access management, dialysis or a kidney transplant, you’ll find it in a compassionate, supportive setting. Come see the difference our dedicated care can make in managing your kidney condition.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 844-739-2897 or click here to use our online form.

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What Are the Benefits of Hemodialysis?

Hemodialysis is the process of cleaning impurities out of your blood when your kidneys can no longer do it effectively. This process is often used to treat advanced kidney failure, which helps those with failing kidneys to continue to live an active lifestyle.

Differences between hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis

Hemodialysis uses a dialysis machine and a special filter called a hemodialyzer, or artificial kidney, to filter waste and remove extra fluid from the blood. To access your blood, your doctor will need to create a small incision on your arm to create an access point to your blood vessels.

In peritoneal dialysis, the lining of your stomach acts as a natural filter. Your doctor will surgically place a soft plastic tube (catheter) into your stomach. During the treatment, a sterile cleansing fluid goes directly to your stomach through this catheter. After the filtering process is finished, the fluid leaves your body back through the same catheter.

Benefits of hemodialysis

Aside from allowing people to continue living a relatively normal life, hemodialysis has other benefits, such as:

  • Hemodialysis requires less time than peritoneal dialysis
    Hemodialysis treatments may occur at a hospital, dialysis center or your own home three times a week, with each session lasting between three and five hours. This leaves most of the week dialysis-free. By contrast, peritoneal dialysis takes between 10 and 12 hours every day.
  • Hemodialysis carries a relatively low risk of infection
    Hemodialysis uses and arteriovenous (AV) fistula, which is the gold standard vascular access used to access a person’s blood. Common complications of peritoneal dialysis include infections of the abdominal lining or at the site where the catheter is inserted to carry the cleansing fluid.
  • Hemodialysis requires less surgical interventions
    AV fistulas for dialysis last many years, longer than transplanted kidneys and catheters for peritoneal dialysis. This type of dialysis does not typically require additional surgeries.

If you or a loved one is in need of expert dialysis care in South Texas, call South Texas Renal Care Group, voted Best Nephrologists by Scene San Antonio, at 844-739-2897 to schedule an appointment with one of the best kidney doctors in the area.

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How to Avoid Kidney Failure

Kidney failure is caused by chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition affecting 30 million Americans.

CKD signifies lasting damage to the kidneys, which can worsen over time to the point that your kidneys may stop functioning. This is called kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to live. Fortunately, you can find effective, compassionate dialysis care in South Texas in multiple locations in San Antonio and neighboring towns.

Although anyone can develop chronic kidney disease, some people are more at risk than others. Some factors that increase your risk for CKD include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart disease
  • Having a family member with kidney disease
  • Being African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian
  • Being 60 years old or more

Can kidney failure be avoided?

Because high blood pressure and diabetes are among the leading causes of CKD, managing these conditions is the key to decreasing your chances of progressive CKD and kidney failure. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, be sure to work closely with your doctor to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under control. This is the best possible way to prevent kidney disease.

Making healthy lifestyle choices can go a long way to help prevent diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease, or help keep them in check. To lower your risk for kidney disease and the problems that cause it:

  • Consume a low-salt, low-fat diet
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise three to four times per week
  • See your doctor for regular checkups
  • Avoid smoking, vaping and using tobacco
  • Limit alcohol

Award-winning kidney care in South Texas

At South Texas Renal Care Group, we are proud to be a recognized leader in treating chronic kidney disease. Our passion for providing people of San Antonio and South Texas exceptional care shines through in our dedication to being the best nephrologists we can be. This hard work has earned us a spot on Texas Monthly’s Super Doctors® list and Vital’s 10 Years of Community Service and Patient’s Choice awards.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 844-739-2897 or click here to use our online form.

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Is Dialysis Safe?

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located on either side of the spine, just below the ribcage. They are responsible for purifying the blood as well as removing any excess waste and fluids from the body. When they stop doing their job well, or at all, your doctor will likely recommend dialysis treatments to keep your body functioning as normally as possible. While dialysis isn’t a cure for kidney disease, it can help increase longevity and improve quality of life.

What is dialysis?

Dialysis is an artificial way to clean your blood. Hemodialysis, the most common type of dialysis, uses a hemodialyzer or artificial kidney. This machine removes impurities and waste from the blood and returns it to the patient. Before the first dialysis treatment, a vascular access (entrance) point is created. This allows the blood to flow from the body to the artificial kidney and back again. Dialysis treatment typically lasts three to five hours and required at least three times per week.

What are the risks associated with dialysis?

For some kidney conditions and disorders, dialysis can temporarily take over kidney function until your own kidneys have time to heal and begin to function well on their own again. Peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis are both life-saving treatments, especially for those suffering from chronic kidney disease. However, like all medical treatments and procedures, they can have certain side effects that include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • High blood potassium levels
  • Itching
  • Muscle cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Anemia
  • Depression

Anyone requiring long-term dialysis may suffer additional complications like headache, vomiting, drowsiness, dehydration, infection, low sodium or fever. However, when dialysis treatments are done as recommended by a medical professional, it will protect as much normal kidney function as possible. Dialysis also helps prevent complications like kidney failure, which is caused by excess waste and toxins in the blood.

If you or a loved one is in need of high quality, experienced dialysis care in San Antonio contact South Texas Renal Care Group at 844-739-2897. Recognized by Scene San Antonio as one of the area’s best nephrology groups, our physicians are dedicated to managing your health and well being through comprehensive, individualized treatment plans.

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Tips to Pass the Time During Dialysis

Dialysis treatments can last between three and four hours and are done three times a week. When you add it up, that’s 9-12 hours each week you can spend on a number of activities or hobbies to help pass the time and keep your mind engaged.

Activities you can enjoy during dialysis

Your treatment provides you with a good opportunity to catch up on things you’ve wanted to do, but haven’t had the time, or to just relax. Here are a few interesting recommendations:

  • Do
    Catch up things like paying bills, responding to emails, shopping online and other odds and ends that may not be urgent, but need your attention. Being productive not only passes the time, but it gives you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Write
    Bring a laptop so you can blog, journal or tweet about your dialysis experience. If you’re not excited about that idea, you can write about whatever is on your mind, or something you are passionate about.
  • Create
    Knitting, crafting, scrapbooking or enjoying an adult-coloring page are fun, feel-good ways to lift your spirits. Create gifts for other patients, friends or loved ones who need a smile.
  • Socialize
    Take your mind off things and catch up with far away friends and family through your favorite social media tools, or connect with loved ones with text messages.
  • Learn
    Whether it’s reading a book, taking an online class, watching a video or listening to a podcast, the Internet is a great resource for learning. Take advantage of this time and immerse yourself in something new.
  • Meditate
    There are a lot of ways to meditate that do not involve yoga poses! Anything you find enjoyable and helps quiet your mind can have the same benefits as traditional meditation. So try an adult coloring book or tackle a puzzle to help you focus on something other than your treatment.
  • Listen
    Music is a terrific way to pass the time and is one of the best ways to relax during dialysis. Many people who listen to music during their dialysis treatments experience less nausea and pain, so bring your favorite songs, albums or bands with you!

With these tips you can make your dialysis treatments more productive, relaxing and enjoyable. If you need dialysis in South Texas, South Texas Renal Care Group is your resource for experienced, individualized care. Contact 844-739-2897 to learn more about our treatment options.

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Hemodialysis vs. Peritoneal Dialysis

If your kidneys are unable to function on their own, you will need dialysis to help flush toxins from your blood to keep your body healthy. Dialysis replaces the function of your kidneys by removing waste and excess fluid from your bloodstream.

Dialysis can be conducted at home or at a treatment center. For those that go to work, school, have children to care for, enjoy active lifestyles or just want more freedom, home dialysis may be a better option. Unfortunately, not all patients are eligible for each treatment method. Your doctor will be able to diagnose your specific condition and determine which treatment option is best.

Hemodialysis vs. peritoneal dialysis

There are two main types of dialysis to treat kidney failure: Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Let’s take a look at their differences below:

  • Access site
    Your doctor will create a vascular access site in the arm before hemodialysis. Peritoneal dialysis, on the other hand, requires a catheter, or piece of tubing, placed in your belly.
  • Filter
    Hemodialysis uses a man-made membrane called a dialyzer to clean the blood, whereas peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your belly.
  • Frequency
    Peritoneal dialysis offers a more flexible dialysis schedule because you will be trained to administer the treatment at home, on your own schedule. Hemodialysis is usually done 3 times per week on a fairly set schedule.
  • Location
    Hemodialysis is typically done in a treatment center three times per week with each session lasting between four and five hours. By contrast, peritoneal dialysis can be done in the comfort of your home on your schedule.

Whether you need treatment for chronic kidney disease related to hypertension or dialysis care in San Antonio, South Texas Renal Care Group is your source for expert, compassionate care. Contact us at 844-739-2897 to learn more about our treatments for chronic kidney disease.

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Why it’s Important to Have Healthy Kidneys

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. It’s important to keep these organs healthy because they are responsible for keeping the rest of your body, especially your blood, healthy.

What do kidneys do?

Keeping your kidneys healthy helps keep the rest of your body healthy. In addition to preventing the build-up of waste and excess fluid in the body, kidneys are responsible for:

  • Balancing fluid content in the body (homeostasis)
    For the cells in our body to work properly, it’s important to balance the amount of water we take in and the amount we lose.
  • Regulating the removal of excess fluids
    Cells in your body can be damaged when too much water enters or leaves them.
  • Producing enzymes that help control blood pressure
    To avoid hypertension or high blood pressure, kidneys help regulate sodium and potassium levels.
  • Producing hormones that help make red blood cells
    Red blood cells help transport oxygen throughout the body to keep organs and muscles healthy.
  • Activating vitamin D
    To keep your bones healthy and strong, the kidneys convert vitamin D into its active form to promote healthy growth and remodeling of bone.

How to keep your kidneys healthy

Kidneys are in charge of removing waste from your blood. Keep them healthy with these tips:

  • Stay hydrated
    Water helps kidneys remove wastes from your body through urine. Water also helps keep your blood vessels working well, allowing blood to easily flow to the kidneys.
  • Eat well
    A kidney-friendly diet helps keep your kidneys healthy by reducing your daily intake of protein, phosphorus and sodium.
  • Exercise regularly
    Regular exercise encourages a healthy lifestyle, which in turn helps reduce your risk of obesity, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
  • Say no to tobacco
    Tobacco decreases the amount of blood that can pass through your kidneys by damaging the blood vessels.

Contact South Texas Renal Care Group at 844-739-2897 for experienced kidney disease treatment in South Texas. Our physicians are dedicated to managing the health and well being of kidney disease patients through comprehensive treatment plans.

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Vascular Access Management

A well-functioning vascular access is essential for performing effective hemodialysis. Hemodialysis, or kidney dialysis, is a blood purification procedure. A person with end-stage kidney disease relies on dialysis to mechanically remove fluids, electrolytes and waste products from their blood. Nearly 500,000 people in the United States depend on dialysis to keep their blood free of toxins each year.

What is vascular access?

Vascular access is a surgically created vein that quickly and easily accesses a person’s blood. This access point allows large amounts of blood to flow continuously from the body through a dialysis machine for purification and back to the body.

Proper management of a vascular access

You can avoid complications like infection, stenosis, thrombosis and hemorrhage through proper management of your vascular access point. Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure the dialysis needle stick locations are rotated to prevent stenosis and thrombosis (deep vein blood clots) from forming.
  • Confirm the vascular access is functioning properly several times per day. Our skilled specialists will show you how it is supposed to react.
  • Look for any bleeding following dialysis treatment.
  • Watch for signs of infection around the access point.
  • Keep the vascular access and surrounding skin clean and dry.
  • Avoid any tight-fitting clothing or jewelry to ensure medical professionals can access the site easily.
  • Do not use any creams or lotions on the vascular access site.

Vascular access should be established well in advance of your first dialysis to give the lifeline a chance to mature, so it can be ready to use. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with kidney disease, contact South Texas Renal Care Group at 844-739-2897 to schedule an appointment.

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