How much does a kidney transplant cost?

Written by carole ellis
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Your kidneys are vital organs, which means that if you do not have functioning kidneys or a way to replace their role in your body, you will eventually die. As a result, when people have irreparable kidney problems, they often consider a kidney transplant to continue to live "normal" lives. Kidney transplants can be extremely expensive, and you need to get all the facts about them before determining if a kidney transplant is a viable option for you.

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Function

A kidney transplant involves taking one kidney from a donor and moving it to the body of the recipient. The donor can be living or dead, but since most people can survive just fine on one kidney, donors are frequently living, which makes the viability of a kidney transplant much greater and the cost significantly less in some cases, since it may not be necessary to preserve the kidney until it makes it to the location of the recipient.

Significance

Since a kidney transplant involves taking an organ out of one person and placing it in another, one of the major and often overlooked costs of a kidney transplant is the cost of making sure that your body does not reject the kidney. Likely, you will have to take a drug to prevent your body from attacking your new kidney for the rest of your life. This is a recurring cost that many people do not factor in.

Considerations

Kidney transplants are often covered by insurance. However, your insurance company may decide that you do not actually need a kidney transplant if you are a candidate for dialysis or some other treatments. If you elect to get the transplant anyway and pay out-of-pocket, your premiums will probably still go up, and any treatment that can be designated as being necessitated by the transplant will also not be covered in the future. This means that you could pay over £65,000 just for the transplant, then hundreds of thousands more if your insurance company can pin any future infection on the anti-rejection drugs you will need to take for your kidneys. As you can see, it is vitally important to review your insurance company's history with transplants long before it becomes a necessity for you.

Effects

Getting a kidney transplant can literally be a new lease on life for you. If your transplant is successful, you will eventually only have to take anti-rejection medicines once a day, much as you take your vitamins. As a result, over time you will actually gain hours each day by getting a kidney transplant that might previously have been lost to dialysis or other treatments.

Features

Because the in-hospital treatment and aftercare costs are so patient-specific, most medical centres are reluctant to post a "price" for kidney transplants. However, when you remove the "custom" pricing for things like your hospital stay and any medications outside of those used in the surgery, you are left with the cost of the operating room in the hospital, supplies, staff, nurse, surgeon and medications. This cost tends to average somewhere between £32,500 and £65,000, depending on the hospital. However, there is no way to tell how applicable this is to you until you are personally assessed by a doctor.

Warning

Kidney transplants are one of the most highly successful transplant procedures today. However, part of being a successful recipient is adequately preparing for the procedure. Have all the elements for a successful surgery in place before undertaking the operation. This includes childcare if you have children, care for yourself and an emergency plan should you require additional care or treatment that you do not currently expect. Otherwise, you may end up stressing your system too early, and your transplant could fail.

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