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.
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.
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:
Some of the common symptoms observed in the case of kidney diseases include the following:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of the world-class multispecialty hospitals in South Africa are:
The performance of these hospitals have been evaluated on the below parameters:
The hospitals are bound to provide quality treatment as the government of South Africa has framed strict healthcare rules to ensure there is no quality lapse. The hospitals are backed with state-of-art infrastructure, the latest medical equipment, and well-trained doctors and offer world-class facilities to enhance the patient experience.
Joint Commission International (JCI) and Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA) are two healthcare accreditation bodies in South Africa. COHSASA is responsible for developing and evaluating standards in all sectors and departments of a healthcare facility to ensure hospitals provide integrated and coordinated care. The SafeCare program launched by COHSASA, JCI, and SafeCare Foundation ensures the implementation of internationally recognized standards to improve health care delivery. Initially, a two-year accreditation is awarded to hospitals and clinics that adhere to standards and the period can be extended if the hospitals continue to deliver expected quality care.
Affordable healthcare and superior infrastructure are the main reasons for the popularity of South Africa in the medical tourism sector. South Africa’s growing popularity in medical tourism is also attributed to factors like a large pool of accredited hospitals, advanced technology, world-class facilities provided by hospitals, global exposure of doctors. South Africa’s recent advancement in stem cell therapy has made it one of the most preferred countries for seeking advanced medical treatment. You get comprehensive treatment at world-class hospitals which assist you with all organization and administrative tasks and also provide you all-inclusive care and assistance on a 24/7 basis.
South Africa produces some of the finest doctors in the world who are well-trained and highly qualified to serve patients with quality care. Having trained in foreign countries like Australia and Cuba, doctors in South Africa use their global exposure in developing deep expertise in various procedures. The doctors deliver great results in dental procedures and fertility treatments and provide complete patient satisfaction through a holistic approach. The high quality of doctors in the country is attributed to factors like their patient-centric approach, incorporation of the human touch in treatment, education at reputed colleges, and adherence to global standards.
A person can apply for a medical visa to South Africa for a period of 90 days. The High Commission helps one decide for how long a visa can be extended. Anyone willing to stay in the country for longer than 3 months needs to apply for a temporary residency permit. An application for a visa is not accepted more than 30 days prior to departure and the validity of a visa begins from the date of issue by the Consulate of India in South Africa and not from the date of travel. Below documents are required for applying for a medical visa:
The most sought-after procedures in South Africa are total knee replacement, meniscus repairs, hip replacement, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Some other procedures which have gained popularity in South Africa are cosmetic surgery and infertility treatment. Egg donation program is available in South Africa and it is even possible to select your donor, as well as gives you the option of having a surgical or non-surgical procedure, all with very low waiting times. The reasons for the popularity of these procedures are affordable treatment cost, speedy recovery, use of advanced technology, and highly trained doctors.
Some popular cities of South Africa that attract a huge number of medical tourists every year are Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban. Cape Town is a world-class tourism attraction and is home to a variety of people from different cultures, as well as some of the top-class doctors and state-of-the-art medical facilities in the world The reasons for the popularity of these cities are multiple food options, connectivity through airlines, and cheap accommodation. Johannesburg’s public and private healthcare sectors work in coordination with South Africa's medical schools to produce internationally recognized medical specialists and the city’s medical care quality matches with that of Great Britain.
Yes, vaccination is compulsory before visiting South Africa. The vaccines recommended by WHO and the National Travel Health Network and Centre are Rabies and tetanus, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, Yellow fever, hepatitis A. Infants 6 to 11 months old travelling to the country should get 1 dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine before travel. It is always recommended that you get typhoid vaccination if you are going to stay with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities or rural areas of South Africa. You can connect with your doctor or the hospital in South Africa for the required vaccines. Also, refer to the travel advisory issued by the government.
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