The kidneys act as the body’s waste disposal system, filtering waste from the blood and maintaining the ideal balance of water and electrolytes. The kidneys also produce important hormones that make red blood cells, regulate blood pressure and facilitate calcium absorption.
When the kidneys are unable to function properly – due to accident, diabetes, infection, high blood pressure, auto-immune disease – waste builds up, the water balance in the body is affected and you may feel weak, tired, nauseated and bloated. Left untreated, the kidneys can fail and toxins build-up to dangerous levels in the blood.
The only way to remove these wastes is through dialysis – where a machine acts as an artificial kidney. Unless a new donor kidney can be found, a patient has to undergo dialysis several times a week for the rest of his/her life. A kidney transplant can help a patient regain his/her health and lead a productive and fulfilling life.
A kidney transplant is a procedure where a patient receives a new donor kidney. In most cases, the patient’s own kidneys are not removed unless they are badly infected. The donor kidney is attached in the lower abdomen and will function just like a normal kidney and the patient can return to his/her normal life without dialysis.
A donor kidney can come from a deceased donor or from a living donor. We all have two kidneys and a healthy individual only needs one kidney to live normally.
In Singapore, living donor kidney donations can be done between relatives (e.g. spouses, siblings, parents, uncles, aunties, cousins) or even a stranger (altruistic donation). In deceased donor kidney donation, the organ is retrieved from deceased donors under Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA).
To date, NUCOT has performed more than 700 successful adult and paediatric living and deceased donor kidney transplantations. We continue to provide post-transplant care and medical follow-ups at our Specialist Outpatient Clinic. On average, we perform close to half of the total number of kidney transplants (both living and deceased donor kidney transplants) in Singapore annually.
In 2019, NUCOT performed 43% of the total kidney transplants in Singapore (both living and deceased donor kidney transplants).1
NUCOT is also a national referral centre for Singapore's deceased kidney donations and transplants. In 2019, we performed 64% of the total number of deceased donor kidney transplants in Singapore.1
1Based on 2019 annual report from the Ministry of Health, National Organ Transplant Unit.
NUH started our first kidney transplant in 1987, and since then, our post-transplant outcomes have been recognised internationally. Our clinical outcomes are better than or comparable with international benchmarks. Our post-transplant patient survival and graft survival rates are illustrated in the tables below:
Since NUH first opened its doors for patient care in 1985, the first kidney transplant was performed in NUH in 1987. Over the years, kidney transplantation at NUH has grown in numbers, scope and complexity.
Established officially in 2008, NUCOT brings together a comprehensive multidisciplinary suite of medical specialty services required throughout our patients’ transplantation journeys.
The services available include pre-transplant medical assessments, surgical and micro-surgical specialised services, post-transplant intensive care and recovery, outpatient check-ups and lifetime medicine reviews. Our team approach ensures that transplant patients are provided with comprehensive, dedicated and individualised care.
Our transplant coordinators and other allied health professionals (such as medical social workers, transplant pharmacists and dietitians) work together to provide the required support and education to our patients and their caregivers.
Through our expertise, we are able to offer complex transplant services for suitable donor-recipient pairs, such as blood group (ABO) incompatible living donor transplants and cross-match positive living donor transplants.
In 2015, we performed the first successful living paired exchange kidney transplant in Singapore.
In addition to its clinical services, NUCOT drives training and research in transplantation. It is accredited by the International Society of Nephrology for training in kidney transplantation and hosts fellows from all over Asia.
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Information correct as at September 2020.