Kidney Transplant Glossary

  • Acute rejection – The host recognizes the graft as foreign and mounts an immunological attack on the graft tissues. Most acute rejections occur in the first year.
  • Adverse rejection – An unintended side-effect from a drug.
  • Allocation – The process of determining how organs are distributed. Allocation includes the system of policies and guidelines, which ensure that organs are distributed in an equitable, ethical and medically sound manner.
  • Allograft – An organ or tissue that is transplanted from one person to another of the same species: i.e. human-to-human. Example: a transplanted kidney.
  • Anti-rejection (immunosuppressive) drugs – Drugs that are used to prevent and/or treat rejection of a transplanted organ.
  • Antibody – A protein molecule produced by the immune system in response to a foreign body, such as virus or a transplanted organ. Since antibodies fight the transplanted organ and try to reject it, recipients are required to take anti-rejection drugs.
  • Antigen – Any substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it. An antigen may be a foreign substance from the environment such as chemicals, bacteria, viruses, pollen, or foreign tissues. An antigen may also be formed within the body, as with bacterial toxins.
  • Anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) – An immunosuppressive drug given intravenously to help prevent or treat rejection of a transplanted organ.
  • Bacteria – A large group of germs that live in water, soil, plants and animals. Some bacteria are pathogens that cause infectious diseases in humans and animals.
  • Biopsy – A tissue sample from the body, removed and examined under a microscope to diagnose for disease, determine organ rejection, or assess donated organs or tissues.
  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) – A waste product of the giestion of protein and removed from the blood by the kidneys. The level is an indicator of how well the kidney is functioning.
  • Brain death – Irreversible cessation of cerebral and brain stem function; characterized by absence of electrical activity in the brain, blood flow to the brain, and brain function as determined by clinical assessment of responses. A brain dead person is dead, although his or her cardiopulmonary functioning may be artificially maintained for some time.
  • Cadaveric transplant – The transplant of an organ from a deceased donor. The preferred term is deceased donor transplant.
  • Candidate – A person registered on the organ transplant waiting list. When an organ is offered on behalf of the candidate, he is then referred to as a potential transplant recipient (PTR).
  • Cholesterol – Fat-like substance found only in animal products; necessary in body functions. Levels in the blood stream can influence certain conditions of the heart. Discuss your cholesterol levels with your transplant team physician.
  • Chronic – Developing slowly and lasting for a long time, possibly the rest of a person's life. For example: chronic kidney failure.
  • Chronic rejection – Slow, continuous immunological attack of the host immune system on the transplanted organ usually resulting in progressive loss of organ function.
  • Corticosteroid – A synthetic hormone used to reduce the body's normal immune reaction to infection and foreign tissue, such as a transplanted organ.
  • Creatinine – A waste product of muscle metabolism that is normally removed from the blood by the kidney. The creatinine level is closely watched and acts as an indicator of how well the kidney is functioning.
  • Criteria (medical criteria) – A set of clinical or biologic standards or conditions that must be met.
  • Cyclosporine – A drug used to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ by suppressing the body's defense system. Considered an immunosuppressant.
  • Delayed function – A condition in which the transplanted organ does not work well immediately after the transplant and has a delay before it begins to function well. Kidneys can sometimes take as long as three weeks to "wake up." Sometimes a kidney recipient needs dialysis until the kidney starts to work adequately.
  • Deceased donor – A person from whom at least one solid organ is recovered for transplantation after suffering brain death or cardiac death.
  • Dialysis – A mechanical process designed to partially perform kidney functions, including correcting the balance of fluids and chemicals in the body and removing wastes.
  • Diastolic blood pressure – The bottom number in the blood pressure measurement (80 in a blood pressure of 120/80), indicating the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest.
  • Domino transplant – A procedure in which an organ is removed from one transplant candidate and immediately transplanted into a second patient, with the first patient receiving a new organ from a deceased donor.
  • Donor – Someone from whom at least one organ or tissue is recovered for transplantation. A deceased donor is a patient who has been declared dead using either brain death or cardiac death criteria. A living donor is one who donates an organ or segment of an organ for transplantation.
  • Donor registries – Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, online registries provide authorized professionals access to a confidential database of registered organ donors, allowing easy and quick confirmation of an individual's consent to organ donation.
  • Expanded criteria donor (ECD) kidney – A kidney received from a dead donor over age 60; or from a donor over age 50 with two of the following: a history of hypertension, a terminal serum creatinine greater than or equal to 1.5 mg/dl, or death resulting from a cerebral vascular accident (stroke). This definition applies to the allocation of deceased donor kidneys.
  • Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) – A measure used to determine kidney function, the GFR indicates the kidney's ability to filter and remove waste products.
  • Graft – A transplanted organ or tissue. Grant survival is the length of time an organ functions successfully after being transplanted.
  • Hemodialysis – A treatment for kidney failure where the patient's blood is passed through a filtering membrane to remove excess fluid and wastes.
  • Hepatitis – A viral infection or non-specific inflammation of the liver that can lead to liver failure.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) (HTN) – When the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the blood vessels is higher than normal because the blood vessels have either become less elastic or have gotten smaller. High blood pressure causes the heart to pump harder to move blood through the body. High blood pressure can cause kidney failure and heart disease if not treated.
  • Histocompatibility – The examination of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) in a patient, often referred to as "tissue typing" or "genetic matching." Tissue typing is routinely performed for all donors and recipients in kidney and pancreas transplantation to help match the donor with the most suitable recipients to help decrease the likelihood of rejecting the transplanted organ.
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) – The virus destroys cells in the immune system, which makes it difficult for the body to fight off infections; toxins, or poisons; and diseases. HIV causes AIDS, a late stage of the virus characterized by serious infections, malignancies and neurologic dysfunctions.
  • Hyperglycemia – The presence of an abnormally high concentration of glucose (sugar) in the blood; usually associated with diabetes.
  • Hypertension – High blood pressure. Occurs when the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the blood vessels is higher than normal because the vessels have either become less elastic or have gotten smaller. Hypertension causes the heart to pump harder to move blood through the body. It can cause kidney failure and heart disease if not treated.
  • Immune response – The body's natural defense against foreign objects or organisms, such as bacteria, viruses or transplanted organs or tissue.
  • Immune system – The organs, tissues, cells and cell products in your body that work to find and neutralize foreign substances including bacteria, viruses and transplanted organs. Immune response is the reaction of body's immune system to foreign material.
  • Immunosuppression – Prevention or inhibition of the immune system to respond to foreign substances in the body. Medications often used to prevent a recipient's immune system from rejecting a transplanted organ or tissue include prednisone, methylprednisolone, azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, and sirolimus, among others.
  • Induction therapy – Medications given for a short finite period in the perioperative period for the purpose of preventing acute rejection. Though the drugs may be continued after discharge for the first 30 days after transplant, it will not be used long-term for immunosuppressive maintenance.
  • Infection – A condition that occurs when a foreign substance, such as bacteria, enters your body, causing your immune system to fight the intruder. All transplant recipients can get infections more easily because their immune systems are suppressed. It is more difficult for them to recover from infection (such as urinary tract infections, colds and the flu).
  • Inflammation – The swelling, heat and redness produced when the body is injured or infected.
  • Informed consent – A person's voluntary agreement, based upon adequate knowledge and understanding of relevant information, to participate in research or to undergo a diagnostic, therapeutic, or preventive procedure.
  • Jaundice – A yellowish staining of the skin and whites of the eyes; may be caused by a medication or a disease process; associated with the liver.
  • Kidneys – A pair of organs that remove wastes from the body through the production of urine. All of the blood in the body passes through the kidneys about 20 times every hour. Kidneys can be donated from living and deceased donors and transplanted into patients with kidney failure.
  • Lymphomas – Any of various, usually malignant tumors that grow in the lymph nodes or in other lymphoid tissue.
  • Match – The compatibility between the donor and the recipient. The more appropriate the match, the greater the chance of a successful transplant.
  • Methlyprednisolone – An intravenous immunosuppressant drug similar to prednisone; used to prevent or treat rejection of a transplanted organ.
  • Multiple listing – Being on the waiting list for the same organ at more than one transplant center.
  • Noncompliance – Failure of patients to follow the instructions of the medical team.
  • Organ – A part of the body made up of tissues and cells that enable it to perform a particular function. Transplantable organs are the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and intestines.
  • Organ donation – To give an organ or a part of an organ to be transplanted into another person. Organ donation can occur with a deceased donor, who can give kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, intestinal organs, and with a live donor, who can give a kidney or a portion of the liver, lung or intestine.
  • Organ preservation – Methods used to preserve organs while they are out of the body, between procurement from a donor and transplantation into a recipient.
  • Parasite – An organism that grows, feeds and is sheltered on or in different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its hots.
  • Peritoneal dialysis – A treatment technique for kidney failure that uses the patient's own body tissues inside of the abdominal cavity to act as a filter. The intestines lie in the abdominal cavity, the space between the abdominal wall and the spine. A plastic tube called a dialysis catheter is placed through the abdominal wall into the abdominal cavity. A special fluid is then flushed into the cavity and washes around the intestines. The lining (peritoneum) of the cavity and intra-abdominal organs act as a filter between this fluid and the blood stream. By using different types of solutions, waste products and excess water can be removed from the body.
  • Plasmapheresis – A process in which plasma is removed from blood and the remaining components, mostly red blood cells, are returned to the donor. The process may be used in transplantation to remove pre-formed antibodies.
  • Procurement – The surgical procedure of removing an organ from a donor. Also referred to as recovery.
  • Recipient – A person who receives a transplant.
  • Recovery – The surgical procedure of removing an organ from a donor.
  • Rejection – Occurs when a recipient's immune system attacks a transplanted organ, tissue, or cell. Immunosuppressive drugs help prevent or treat rejection.
  • Renal – Having to do with, or referring to, the kidneys.
  • Required request – Hospitals must tell the families of suitable donors that their loved one's organs and tissues can be used for transplant. This law is expected to increase the number of donated organs and tissues for transplantation by giving more people the opportunity to donate.
  • Retransplantation – Due to rejection or failure of a transplanted organ, some patients receive another transplant.
  • Retrieval – surgical procedure of organ recovery. Also referred to as procurement.
  • Saturated fat – Fat that is solid at room temperature; found mostly in animal products, but also in vegetable products, chocolate and coconuts. "Bad fat."
  • Steroids – Naturally occurring hormones in the body that help control important body functions. Synthetic or man-made steroids can be used to suppress the immune system.
  • Survival rates – Indicate the percentage of patients that are alive and the grafts (organs) that are still functioning after a certain amount of time.
  • Systolic blood pressure – The top number in the blood pressure (the 120 in a blood pressure of 120/80) measures the maximum pressure exerted on the vessel wall when the heart contracts.
  • Tissue – An organization of a great many similar cells that perform a special function. Examples of tissues that can be transplanted are blood, bones, bone marrow, corneas, heart valves, ligaments, saphenous veins and tendons.
  • Tissue typing – A blood test that helps evaluate how closely the tissues of the donor match those of the recipient.
  • Unsaturated fat – Fat that is liquid at room temperature and found primarily in vegetable products. "Good fat."
  • Ureter – One of two tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder.
  • Vascular – Referring to blood vessels and circulation.
  • Ventilator – A machine that "breathes" for a patient when the patient is not able to breathe properly.
  • Virus – A group of tiny organisms capable of growing and copying themselves while living within cells of the body.
  • Xenograft – An organ or tissue procured from a different species for transplantation into a human.

    © 2014 The University of Mississippi Medical Center