The Kidney Transplant Program at UofL Health – Trager Transplant Center provides the highest quality of care for patients in need of kidney transplantation.
We realize that patient care begins before you ever walk in our doors and continues past the time you are discharged. Our dedicated team of surgeons, nephrologists, nurse coordinators and social workers works closely with the patient from pre-transplant evaluations through post-transplant care.
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located in the lower back along either side of the spine. Most everyone is born with two kidneys but can live a normal life with just one kidney. The kidneys make urine, but they are also important for removing waste materials and extra fluid from the blood, regulating blood pressure, making red blood cells and regulating fluids and chemicals needed by the body. Watch this video to learn more about how the kidneys work.
What is kidney failure?
The two most frequent causes of kidney failure are high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes. When kidneys fail, the result is end-stage renal disease and normal kidney function will not return. Over 26 million American adults suffer from chronic kidney (renal) disease, which could advance to end stage renal disease (kidney failure).
Kidney failure linked to Type 1 Diabetes most often results in kidney transplantation and occasionally pancreas transplantation if the pancreas is no longer efficiently managing hormone levels. Patients undergoing both surgeries simultaneously have the best chance at a normal quality of life without dialyses or insulin injections.
When a kidney has permanently lost the ability to clean the blood of toxins, the process is done by artificial means called dialysis. The two types of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
- Hemodialysis – blood is passed through an artificial kidney machine to clean it.
- Peritoneal dialysis – a filtration process similar to hemodialysis, but the blood is cleaned inside your body rather than in a machine, via a tube inserted into your abdomen.
When kidneys completely fail, kidney transplant becomes the best lifesaving option.
Each patient referred to our program undergoes a thorough medical assessment to determine suitability as a transplantation candidate. Patients are also screened for anticipated compliance, support system availability, emotional stability and financial coverage for the transplant and post-transplantation care. The Kidney Transplant Team is available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week for issues regarding patient care.
Nephrologists and Immunosuppressive Management
UofL Health Physicians’ Nephrologists actively participate in the evaluation and patient care for all kidney transplants performed at UofL Health – Trager Transplant Center. Immunosuppressive pain management is handled by a team of pharmacists, physicians and coordinators working together to manage medication needs during and after your stay. An onsite pharmacy is available to handle all medication needs. The transplant team will also consult with the referring physicians throughout the transplant process to keep them apprised of the patient’s transplant status.
The Transplant Coordinators provide continuity of care of the patients beginning with the referral for transplant, transplant hospitalization and transplant follow-up. Transplant Social Workers and the Transplant Financial Counselor assist the patient and their family with housing, insurance verification and other psychosocial concerns.
Additional services provided by our team include:
- Kidney transplants for those with renal failure (including living donor transplants)
- Kidney-Pancreas transplants for those with kidney disease and Type I diabetes
- On-going clinical trials
- Patient education, including nutrition and support groups
In addition, UofL Physicians includes dedicated pediatric nephrologists who operate a first-rate pediatric kidney transplant program at Norton Children’s Hospital.
Living Kidney Donor Candidates
To ensure every donor is prepared, both physically and emotionally for their donation, patient education and evaluation will be coordinated for all living donor candidates while maintaining confidentiality with a separation of donor and recipient teams. Services also include long-term monitoring of health status after the donation surgery has occurred.
Living donors undergo an extensive screening process to ensure they are in excellent health and able to donate. The final candidacy of each donor is determined after review of the evaluation by the End Stage Renal Disease Selection Committee.
To be considered an appropriate donor a person must be/have:
- Highly motivated to donate free of coercion or monetary gain
- Normal renal function
- No active or recent cancer
- Normal cardiovascular risk for anesthesia
- Age 18 – 65
Potential reasons someone might not qualify for living kidney donation include:
- Recent or significant history of psychosis, serious mood disorder or substance abuse
- Lack of a support system
- History of medical non-compliance
- Lack of emotional and cognitive preparedness for organ donation
- History of single kidney stone
- Chronic neck or back pain
- Chron’s Disease
- Hepatitis B and C
- Diabetes (Type II, Gestational Diabetes)
- Body Mass Index greater than 30
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Current tobacco use (mandatory smoking cessation two weeks prior to surgery)
- History of Seizures, Stroke or any other chronic neurological disorder that requires long term therapy
- Peripheral Vascular Disease
- Controlled Hypertension (requiring only a single medication)
- Absolute reasons someone might not qualify for living kidney donation:
- Multiple Kidney Stones
- Diabetes (Type I)
- Body Mass Index greater than 40
- HIV Positive
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Pulmonary Embolus/Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Creatinine Clearance of less than 70
- Non – Irreversible Cardiac Disease
- Uncontrolled Hypertension (requiring more than one medication)
- Significant psychosocial instability or psychiatric disorders that may interfere with or prevent compliance
Transplant centers are required to submit data on the outcomes of living kidney donors for a minimum of two years following donation. Living donors have a normal life span and require no special diet or restrictions.
Want to learn more about becoming a living kidney donor?