Kidney Transplant Surgery

Exceptional Care and Advanced Surgical Techniques for Kidney Transplant

Loyola Medicine provides compassionate, expert care for patients with end-stage kidney disease and failure. For patients whose nephrologist has recommended a kidney transplant, Loyola’s transplant surgeons are compassionate and highly skilled in performing life-saving kidney transplant surgery

Qualifying 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. 

We understand that if you are considering a kidney transplant, you have endured much because of your condition and want your life to return to normal. Loyola’s expert transplant team will provide exceptional care and the most advanced treatment options available.

If you are considering making a kidney donation, find out more about Loyola’s living kidney donor program.

Why Choose Loyola for Kidney Transplant Surgery?

Loyola’s Transplant Center has the medical expertise and technological resources to care for the most difficult conditions, whether you need a kidney or a multi-organ transplant. Since 1971, Loyola’s kidney program has provided a full range of services for patients of all ages as they prepare for a kidney transplant

As a world-class academic medical center, our doctors perform and teach the latest surgical techniques and exceptional medical care. Loyola’s skilled and compassionate nurse coordinators work closely with transplant patients, providing support and answering your questions—not only before surgery, but afterward as well. 

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, including your medical urgency, as well as compatibility to the donor and geography (organs are matched within the same region whenever possible).
     
  • Incompatible living donor — A donor whose blood group or antigen count doesn’t match 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. For example, a kidney from a perfectly matched sibling will function for an average of 35 years. 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 to Expect with Kidney Transplant Surgery

Once a kidney becomes available, your medical team will quickly make the arrangements for the surgery and your hospital stay. Your nurse coordinator will inform you and your family about where to go and when to arrive. You will undergo a few final tests for infection, fever and other serious conditions as well as several blood tests, chest X-ray and EKG. You also may undergo a dialysis session.

In the operating room, you will receive general anesthesia and be set up for an IV. A catheter will be placed in your bladder to monitor urine production during surgery. The surgery will last approximately three to four hours. Your existing kidneys, or native kidneys, will be left in place, near the back of your abdomen, unless your doctor determines there is a medical reason to remove them. The transplanted kidney will be placed in your pelvis.

Ongoing Support and Treatment After Kidney Transplant Surgery

Your doctors and nurses will monitor you very closely after surgery. You will need to do some deep breathing exercises and coughing to help prevent pulmonary complications. If needed, physical therapists will work with you to help you get up and walking. You will have a catheter for a few days to help your bladder recover from transplant surgery. Most recipients go home four to six days after surgery.

Our medical staff will send you home with medication. You will be given a strict schedule for taking immunosuppressive medication, which is very important to follow. You will need to take this medication for the rest of your life to prevent your body from rejecting the new organ.

Kidney recipients are followed quite closely during the first year after transplant surgery with frequent lab and clinic visits along with possible kidney biopsy tests, as needed, to help identify any signs of rejection. Visits with your Loyola nephrologist will become less frequent and your nephrologist will become more involved in your care. Eventually you will only need to see your nephrologist once a year.

What are the Risks of Kidney Transplant Surgery?

Receiving a kidney transplant can be life-saving for patients with end-stage kidney disease. Your new, healthy kidney may eliminate the need for dialysis treatments, and you may feel more energy within the first days after surgery. 

Your Loyola transplant team will discuss the risks and benefits of transplant surgery with you prior to the procedure. Risks of kidney transplant surgery include:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Death
  • Disease transmitted through donated kidney
  • Failure of donated kidney
  • Heart attack
  • Infection at incision site
  • Infection from new organ
  • Kidney rejection
  • Leakage from ureter
  • Stroke
  • Ureter blockage

Your highly skilled Loyola transplant surgeon will work to reduce the risk of complications during and after your surgery.

To learn more, read our kidney transplant frequently asked questions. Your transplant care team is available around the clock should you have a question or concern. Please call us at 708-327-4TXP/708-327-4897.