Kidney Transplantation in South Africa

Kidney Transplantation in South Africa

Kidneys are vital organs of the human body. They are also one of the most vulnerable organs. The kidney performs many crucial tasks for the body and is a major part of the human renal system. Kidneys filter waste and toxic elements from food and pass it to the excretory system.

Kidneys regulate the mineral level and filter blood. Kidneys are the main filtering unit and also maintain fluid balance in the body. Another major function of a kidney is to create hormones that promote red blood cell production, improve bone health, and control blood pressure. Adrenaline, which improves our reflexes in an unsafe condition, is also produced by an organ situated on the kidney. With so many functions, both the kidneys need to be in perfect health for a quality life. Humans, however, can survive on one kidney.

Due to various diseases, your immune system may go down, and your kidney's filtering abilities can reduce drastically as filtering goes down, the level of toxins in blood increases. This can lead to very high blood pressure and subsequent Kidney Failure. Kidney failure is also known as end-stage renal disease.

Kidney failure happens when 90% of the filtering abilities of kidneys is halted. End-stage kidney failure can cause a person's health to fall severely. To survive in such conditions, the waste in the body needs to be removed manually through dialysis machines. Dialysis is a very costly and often painful process. There is another option, which is also known as a kidney transplant. This is usually the best treatment as one cannot be on dialysis for the rest of his/her lifetime. The failed kidneys are removed and replaces by a kidney of a deceased person or a living donor. Since a person can survive on one kidney, people can donate their kidneys while they are alive.

Kidney transplantation demands have been on the rise due to adverse changes in human lifestyles these days. Type 1 or type 2 diabetes is one of the main reasons for kidney failure. With a rise in diabetes and high blood pressure cases, kidney failures are becoming more and more common. Kidney transplants have become a big medical market. South Africa is one such thriving global center for kidney transplantation. There has been a recent decline in demand, but the facilities are great in some hospitals.

The decline in demand has also led to a decline in prices of kidney transplantations. The first kidney transplant of the whole African continent was performed in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1966. The developments in kidney transplant resulted due to rising cases of deaths due to kidney diseases. The death toll went up to 1000 per million people. South Africa began its journey of transplants in 1966 and have completed around 7200 kidney transplants in the last 25 years. The number is increasing slowly but steadily. With skilled experts and technological developments, South Africa now stands as a good option for having Kidney transplants urgently.

Cost comparisons

The costs of kidney transplant vary widely between nations, especially in continents. The costs of kidney transplants are low in countries away from Europe and North America. This can be contributed to the strength of Dollar in many and African countries. Kidney transplants are very cheap in countries like India, Mexico, and South Africa compared to European countries like Germany and Turkey. The costs of transplantation in South Africa can range anywhere between one and two lakh Rands. This can be converted to 7000 to 15000 US dollars. Transplantation costs are quite similar in India.

Within South Africa, the costs fluctuate between clinics to clinics. However, kidney transplant costs are always lower than kidney dialysis costs. Dialysis can be used until you find a donor. Once a healthy donor is found, kidney transplantation becomes a cost-efficient and more comforting method of treatment. South Africa is home to some very good hospitals known throughout the Asian continent. Patients have their value of money when they opt for a transplant in South African lands.

Treatment and Cost


Total Days
In Country

2 No. Travelers

15 Day in Hospital

15 Days Outside Hospital

Treatment cost starts from

USD 7000


About the Kidney Transplant


There are many options when it comes to the treatment of a kidney that fails to maintain normal function in the body. Kidney transplant surgery is one of the most successful ways to restore normal functioning of the affected kidneys as it allows for an access to greater freedom and a better quality of life.

A kidney transplant patient is more likely to enjoy bouts of energy and follow the less strict diet as compared to patients who choose an alternative treatment.

The kidney performs several important functions in the human body. Even slight damage to the kidneys can, therefore, cause a lot of problems. When the kidney is rendered incapable of its main function, that is, removal of waste products from the blood, a condition called uremia develops.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of this condition do not develop unless 90 percent of the kidney is damaged. This is the time when an individual would require a kidney transplantation surgery or dialysis to restore the normal functioning.

There are several other kidney diseases that warrant the need for a kidney transplantation. Some of these conditions include the following:

    • Deep-rooted problem in the anatomy of the urinary tract
    • Extremely high blood pressure
    • Glomerulonephritis
    • Polycystic kidney disease
    • Diabetes mellitus


Symptoms of Kidney Dysfunction

Some of the common symptoms observed in the case of kidney diseases include the following:

  • Shortness of breath and general fatigue
  • Retention of fluid causing swelling (edema)
  • Foamy and dark orange,  brown, red or tea-colored urine
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Back pain
  • Restless legs and inability to sleep due to leg cramps
  • Metallic taste
  • Breathing problems due to urea build up in blood
  • Loss of appetite
  • Numbness in the toes or fingertips and tingling sensation
  • Problem concentrating

How is Kidney Transplant performed?

The kidney transplant surgery is performed under the influence of general anesthesia. The operation can range from two to four hours. Since the kidney is placed in a different location than where it naturally exists, this kind of procedure is called a heterotypic transplant.

Kidney Transplant vs Other Organ Transplants

This is unlike liver and heart transplant surgeries during which the organ is placed in the same location after removing the diseased organ. Thus, in the case of a kidney transplant, diseased kidneys are left in its original position.

During the kidney transplant procedure, an intravenous line is initiated in the hand or arm and catheters are connected to the wrist and neck to check the blood pressure, heart status and take samples of blood. Groin or region below the collarbone can also be used for insertion of catheters.

The hair is shaved off or cleared in the region of the surgical site and a urinary catheter is inserted into the bladder. The patient is positioned on the operating table lying on their back. After the administration of general anesthesia, a tube is positioned into the lungs through the mouth. This tube is attached to a ventilator so that the patient can breathe during the surgery.

Anesthesia and Kidney Donor

The anesthesiologist closely monitors the blood oxygen level, breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. The site of the incision is cleaned with an antiseptic solution. A long incision is made by the doctor on one side of the lower abdomen. The donor's kidney is visually inspected before implantation.

Now the donor's kidney is placed in the abdomen. Usually, the left donor kidney is implanted on the right side and vice versa. This leaves scope to connect ureters with the bladder. To the external iliac artery and vein, the renal artery and vein of the donor's kidney are sewn.

The donor ureter is then connected to the urinary bladder of the patient. With surgical staples and stitches, the incision is closed and a drain is positioned at the incision site to prevent swelling. Lastly, a sterile bandage or dressing is placed.

Recovery from Kidney Transplant

After the surgery, close monitoring of the functioning of transplanted kidney and signs of adjustment, rejection, infection, and immunosuppression is done. Almost 30 percent of the cases experience a few side effects related to organ rejection and it usually happens within a period of 6 months. In some cases, it can even happen years later. Quick treatment can negate and fight rejection in such cases.

Recovery post Kidney Transplant Procedure

Immunosuppressive agents that fight rejection prevent this from happening. These medications have advised to the transplant patients for their lifetime. The kidney transplant success rate is challenged if these medications are stopped. A combination of drugs is usually recommended

It takes around two to three days for the recipient to be discharged from the hospital after the surgery. The patient is encouraged to take small steps and start walking and moving a bit. Kidney transplant recovery period lasts for around two to three weeks of the surgery, after which the patient may return back to normal life.


Pros and Cons of Kidney transplant



    • It improves life and is better than most other alternatives
    • Little restriction on diet
    • Mostly covered by insurance



  • Rejection of the transplanted kidney
  • Medications have to be followed religiously
  • Medications may have side effects

Patient Stories

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the best candidate for Kidney Transplantation in South Africa?

Certain conditions may prevent you from being a good candidate for kidney transplantation. Dementia and mental illness are considered unfavorable cases for kidney transplants. A cancer patient, recently treated cancer, alcohol or drug use, heart disease, and an unfavorable reaction to medications are adverse situations. In these conditions, transplantation is not a good option. Doctors usually suggest dialysis until these adverse conditions are under control or cured.

Other things to consider are the financial budget. One must include the travel costs to South Africa and choose a more cost-effective option if budget is tight.

What is the average cost of kidney transplantation in South Africa?

Average kidney dialysis costs in South Africa can be around 150000 rands per year while Kidney transplantation costs are one-time expenses with only some medications after surgery. The transplant costs are around 100, 000 Rand in one of the leading hospitals of South Africa named Groote Schuur Hospital. The hospital is a pioneer in Transplantation developments of South Africa and has always come forward to provide donors to patients in need of Kidneys. The costs vary between government-owned and private hospitals. The costs in government hospitals can be almost half the costs in private hospitals.

Why should you opt for Kidney Transplantation in South Africa?

The Kidney transplants began very long ago in South Africa. With constant pressure on the economy and a struggle-filled past, the growth has been slow. There were declines in the number of Kidney transplants recently. However, the country remains the best option for anyone living in the African Continent. South Africa is among the most developed country of the continent, and it is also highly developed in Medical facilities. There is organ donation awareness being spread throughout the country. With all the steps government have taken and with public support, South Africa is a good, if not the best choice for having a kidney transplant at low costs.

How successful is Kidney Transplantation in South Africa?

The only problem being faced by the transplantation systems of South Africa is a lack of organ donors. The success rate has never been a problem, and there are some very skilled surgeons in the country specializing in kidney and heart transplants. The success rate of kidney transplants is as high as 85-90% provided that both the donor and receiver are good candidates for transplant surgery. Private hospitals have an excellent record of successful kidney transplants because of the efforts of surgeons.

Which are the best Hospitals for Kidney Transplantation in South Africa?

There are not many hospitals in the country when compared to other European nations. However, existing hospitals perform their work effectively. As mentioned earlier, Groote Schuur is a great hospital with an amazing success rate. The costs are controlled, and the services are good at Groote Schuur. The hospital is known to perform over 30 kidney transplants in a year. This is a unique number for an African country, considering that kidney availability is very low. Groote Schuur runs its awareness program and persuades people to donate organs post their life. Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town is also a public hospital for transplant activities of all kinds, including kidney transplants. Wits Gordon Medical Center, situated in Johannesburg, is a good private hospital for kidney transplants with world-class facilities.

Which are the top surgeons for Kidney Transplantation in South Africa?

The country has few nephrologists and too many patients. There are many experts in the country. One such expert is Prof. Jean Botha, who is a transplant surgeon working currently for the reputed Donald Gordan Medical Center. He has performed several transplants throughout his career and is now regarded as a kidney transplant expert.

What is the health care infrastructure of South Africa / Why should opt for South Africa as a destination for your medical treatment?
Like most countries, hospitals in South Africa are based upon public and private healthcare systems. There are three main levels of healthcare based upon the payment method of the patient.
  • The full paying patients are those who usually prefer to be treated by a doctor working in the private sector. They can also be funded by an external source. Many non-South African citizens also prefer this treatment service.
  • Fully subsidized patients are those who have been referred from a Primary Healthcare Service Hospital.
  • Partially subsidized patients are patients whose costs are subsidized based on the amount of their income.
The public healthcare system has three main centers for health under its wing:
  • Clinics - These are run by trained professionals and nurses. They can serve as the first point of contact for a patient.
  • Community Healthcare Centre - This is a bigger setup, complete with full-fledged services and doctors and nurses.
  • Hospital - A patient usually gets here after a referral from a clinic or community health center. One can also go in for emergencies. A hospital provides various services like performing surgery and treating chronic illnesses.
Hospitals in South Africa are gearing up to tackle major illnesses and to provide better treatment options. The South African government is also working to introduce policies and towards accommodating more patients from all across the world. It is a great country to find affordable treatment options.
What are the conditions of the hospitals in South Africa? Are they JCI certified? What is the quality of the support staff in the hospitals
The Joint Commission International (JCI) accredits and certifies most health care organizations and programs all around the world. Joint Commission International Accreditation and Certification is recognized as the global leader for health care quality of care and patient safety.
Are the doctors/surgeons in South Africa of the best quality?
Doctors associated with Medigence are of the best quality. We hope to give our patients a pleasant experience and the best doctors we can find. Since South Africa has a lot of requirements in the field of healthcare, the country attracts doctors from all over the world to contribute their services. This can help to ensure that even you receive the best quality of doctors.
What is the process for obtaining a medical visa in South Africa?
One can apply for a visa to South Africa for a period of 90 days. The High Commission of India can then help one decide for how long a visa can be extended. This usually differs from person to person. The Medical Visa allows a person to stay for a maximum of six months with a valid visa. After this, one can go to the FRO office ( Foreigner’s Registration Office ) or FRRO (Foreigner's Regional Registration Office) and request for an extension. Do note that the validity of a visa begins on the day it is issued by the High Commission of India and not on the date of departure. Applications for visas will not be accepted more than 30 days prior to departure.
What support services does MediGence provide in the United Arab Emirates?
MediGence enables you to plan and manage your medical decisions better. These are some of our services offered:
  • Expert Opinion
    We help you seek an Expert Opinion on your diagnosis and treatment from an experienced team of doctors at MediGence and specialists from a reputable hospital.
  • Hospital Recommendation
    We recommend a hospital or a healthcare institution that is best suited for you, based on your ailment and its criticality.
  • 360-degree Hospital Review
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  • Doctor Validation and Communication
    We share a comprehensive profile of the treating doctor and also arrange a call to clear queries regarding treatment if needed.
  • Options to Choose From
    Based on your choice of destination and other preferences, we provide you multiple options with respect to hospitals and doctors to choose from.
  • 24X7 Patient Care Support
    A dedicated patient case manager stays in constant touch with you to help you at every step of the decision-making process and resolve queries that you may have.
  • Transparent Treatment Cost and Other Expenses
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    We propose to you a choice of accommodation based on your preference such as long stay, short stay, or luxury properties.
Which are the best cities in South Africa for medical treatment?
While many cities are striving to create some of the best hospitals in South Africa, Durban, Lenasia, and Cape Town already have some very good hospitals for treatment in South Africa. Located in Durban, Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre is a reasonable and affordable hospital in South Africa. Life Kingsbury Hospital in Capetown provides a holistic healing environment for patients. One can also opt for the Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital in Lenasia. This hospital has been running for nearly 30 years now and various medical facilities can be availed from here.

Our team of healthcare experts would be happy to assist you

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