Kidney Transplant

Exceptional Outcomes for Kidney Transplant Patients since 1971

Loyola Medicine offers the highest level of multidisciplinary, integrated care for kidney disease and failure patients who may be considering a kidney transplant. Loyola takes on the most challenging cases; so if you’ve been turned down by another transplant center, consider getting a second opinion at Loyola. Preparation for a kidney transplant is an extensive process and includes a detailed evaluation, a search for a donor kidney, the transplant surgery and a recovery period. 

At Loyola, you will have an entire team on your side, including your transplant nephrologist, transplant surgeon, anesthesiologists, nurse coordinators, nurse practitioners, procurement nurses, transplant chaplains, infectious disease specialists, physical therapists, dietitians, financial coordinators, clinical pharmacists, social workers and psychologists. We have one goal: restoring you to better health.

Why Choose Loyola for Kidney Transplants?

A successful transplant starts the moment you walk in the door. We are thorough in our testing and complete in our patient education. We will leave no question unanswered. Loyola’s doctors, nurse coordinators and nutritionists will ensure that you are in the best possible state of health before transplant surgery and prepared for the next chapter in your life.

Since Loyola’s kidney transplant program started in 1971, we have provided a complete spectrum of services for patients of all ages—including a dialysis center that caters to all needs of our patients. While you wait for a kidney, you may face other health challenges from kidney disease, such as sleep problems, osteoporosis or heart disease. Loyola’s subspecialists provide expertise for a wide range of these related health conditions, and your transplant team will facilitate a referral to an appropriate specialist if needed. 

Our board-certified transplant surgeons are widely regarded and highly skilled in both traditional and minimally invasive surgery. Loyola’s surgeons use laparoscopic surgery for living donors, which leads to a quicker recovery and less pain; learn more about our living kidney donor program.

Whether you need a kidney or a multi-organ transplant, Loyola’s highly skilled transplant team will provide the most advanced care. As part of an academic medical center, Loyola’s doctors perform and teach the latest surgical techniques and medical practices. Our transplant team is often consulted by doctors at other hospitals because of their expertise and experience. We would welcome offering you a second opinion.

What are the Different Types of Kidney Transplants?

Transplant patients can receive kidneys from living and deceased organ donors. Loyola offers several types of kidney transplants; your transplant team will recommend the right one for you.

  • Deceased donor — When a patient with end-stage kidney disease can’t find a suitable living donor, a match can occur through a deceased donor. A patient is placed on the national waiting list maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Your wait time will depend on many factors.
     
  • Incompatible living donor — A donor whose blood type or match is incompatible with a transplant recipient can be used if the patient’s blood is repeatedly cleansed of mismatched antibodies through plasmapheresis. Recipients also have to take medications that reduce the amount of antibodies that their bodies produce.
     
  • Living donor — Kidneys from a healthy living donor, whether from a family member, friend or someone you don’t know, are the best option for a kidney transplant because they tend to have the best outcomes. Learn more about our living kidney donor program.
     
  • Paired donor exchange/swap — Often kidney patients waiting for transplant surgery will find a living donor who is not compatible with their blood and tissue type. However, a match may exist with another pair in the same situation and the kidney recipients may swap kidney donors. Learn more about our pay-it-forward program.

What Diseases are Treated with Kidney Transplant?

Loyola’s nephrologists and transplant surgeons are well-versed in every type of kidney disease. Some conditions that lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD) and the need for a kidney transplant include:

Evaluation and Wait List for Kidney Transplants

If your nephrologist recommends a kidney transplant as the next step in your care, your healthcare team will confirm your diagnosis of end-stage kidney disease and start your kidney transplant evaluation. The evaluation has several steps, and we will guide you through the process. As a first step you will be educated and then sign a consent in order to move forward. Loyola physicians first will take a detailed personal and medical history before conducting a physical examination. Several tests will be ordered to assess the status of your health. We will be there with you every step of the way, informing you of your test results and next steps.

The Medical Review Board will discuss your case and decide whether you are a good candidate for a kidney transplant. If so, you will be placed on the national waiting list with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Your wait time for a deceased-donor kidney depends on many factors, including your medical urgency and compatibility to the donor. However, the wait for a kidney transplant can be greatly reduced if a friend or relative is interested in a paired donor exchange.

To learn more, read about Loyola’s evaluation for kidney transplant process and our kidney transplant frequently asked questions.

Ongoing Treatment and Recovery after Kidney Transplant Surgery

Once you are on the list for a donor kidney, your Loyola team will make sure that you are up to date on all tests. The dialysis staff and your transplant care team will be in close communication about your state of health. We also will work with you on your exercise and dietary plans so that you are in the best possible condition once an organ match is available. 

Once you have a matching donor, we will arrange the surgeries and start preparations. There will be several last-minute tests after your arrival at the hospital. Your surgery will take a few hours, and then you will start your recovery. You will be closely monitored after surgery and your nurses will be there to assess your pain and administer medication to make you comfortable. You will be asked to start walking and try some deep breathing exercises to prevent pulmonary complications. 

You will be prescribed immunosuppression medications to prevent transplant rejection. Within the first day, you may notice a difference in how you feel due to your new, healthy kidney. Your recovery will likely take six to eight weeks. Your nurse coordinator will map out your lab tests, kidney biopsy procedures and doctor visits to assess your kidney function. You will have many appointments in the first year after surgery, but gradually your nephrologist will start to take over your care. Should you ever have a question, your transplant care team is available around the clock.

To learn more, read about kidney transplant surgery at Loyola and our kidney transplant frequently asked questions.

Comprehensive Donor Programs for Kidney Transplant Recipients

Loyola offers unique programs to support potential kidney donors and improve outcomes for our patients, including:

  • Living kidney donor program — Living-donor transplants are becoming more common because of the limited supply of deceased-donor organs and the excellent outcomes of living-donor transplants. Loyola provides comprehensive services for living donor candidates before, during and after surgery. Minimally invasive surgery provides the benefits of less blood loss and scarring, decreased pain after surgery and a faster recovery. 

    Our living donors work with their own care team, including a living donor advocate who ensures that they feel free from pressure while making the decision to donate. Learn more about our living kidney donor program.
     

  • Pay-it-forward program — For kidney transplant candidates who have a willing but incompatible donor, Loyola can offer help with living-donor kidney chains through its innovative and highly acclaimed pay-it-forward kidney transplant program. 

    Loyola participated in one of the longest living-donor kidney chain in the United States. We pair these kidney transplant candidates with altruistic donors, who have decided to donate a kidney to a stranger. The transplant patient’s incompatible donor then donates a kidney to another kidney patient who also has a willing but incompatible donor. This has a domino effect. Living-donor kidney chains not only can reduce wait times, but normally lead to better outcomes. Learn more about our pay-it-forward program.

Working with the National Kidney Registry (NKR), our goal is to find kidney transplant candidates a living-donor kidney within a year. This means less time on dialysis for our patients. As an added benefit, these pairings free up spaces on the national waiting list, allowing other kidney patients to receive a kidney transplant sooner and possibly saving lives. 

Ongoing Clinical Trials to Advance Kidney Transplant Research

Loyola is conducting research today to find the surgical and medical treatments of tomorrow. Loyola patients will be granted access to the latest medications and therapies through our clinical trials

Common Questions about Kidney Transplants

If your nephrologist has recommended a kidney transplant as your best medical option, we understand that you will have many questions. Loyola Medicine is known for taking on the most challenging cases. If you’ve been turned down by another transplant center, consider getting a second opinion at Loyola.

We expect that you have many concerns about your transplant surgery. You may be interested in reviewing the answers to the most frequently asked questions about kidney transplants. We are also available to answer your questions at your appointment times or by phone. 

Loyola’s multidisciplinary team is widely recognized for its expertise in helping kidney transplant candidates maintain the best health possible while waiting for surgery.

See our Kidney Transplant Frequently Asked Questions.