31. How many extra years of healthy life do transplant recipients usually receive?

A successful transplant nearly always provides both an improvement in quality of life and an increase in quantity of life. For many recipients, getting a transplant means not just preventing immediate death, but having many additional years of feeling dramatically better than when they were sick. Some transplant patients have been sick nearly all their lives, and having a transplant means that they can finally lead the active life they've never had before. For those with kidney failure, a transplant frees them from dialysis - a very time consuming treatment on which they often feel exhausted. On average, patients that have had a kidney transplant will live about twice as long as patients that are kept alive on dialysis.

Some patients do experience life-threatening sudden organ failure, especially liver failure, and face rapid death without a transplant. For these patients, the transplant is immediately life-saving.

This is not to say that transplant recipients are freed from all medical concerns. All people who receive a transplant must take immunosuppressive (rejection-preventing) and other medications daily. They must monitor themselves for signs of rejection or other health problems, and in general take good care of themselves and the transplanted organ. But this is a small price to pay for the extra years of healthy life that they gain.

For information on survival statistics visit www.ustransplant.org.

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