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UofL Health

Kidney Transplant

Our multidisciplinary team of UofL Physicians are an integral part of the Kidney Transplant Program at UofL Health – Trager Transplant Center, which provides the highest quality of care for patients in need of kidney transplantation. The first kidney transplant in Western Kentucky was performed at UofL Health – Jewish Hospital in 1964. Since that time, we have performed more than 3,0000 kidney transplants and completed Kentucky’s first non-related living kidney donor transplant in 1994. The kidney program performs living kidney donations via a minimally invasive, laparoscopic approach. Our dedicated team of surgeons, nephrologists, nurse coordinators and social workers works closely with the patient from pre-transplant evaluations through post-transplant care.

In addition, UofL Physicians includes dedicated pediatric nephrologists who operate a first-rate kidney transplant program at Norton Children’s Hospital.

Conditions & Treatments

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 (ESRD) a permanent condition which normal kidney function will not return. Over 26 million American adults suffer from chronic kidney (renal) disease which could advance to ESRD.

Kidney failure linked to Type 1 Diabetes most often results in kidney transplantation and occasionally pancreas transplantation (link to tab) 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 dialysis 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.

Patients may stay on dialysis until a kidney becomes available for transplantation. Two transplant options patients can consider are deceased or living donor transplants. 

Living Donor Kidney Transplant

Our physicians at UofL Health – Trager Transplant Center provide minimally invasive surgical techniques, which result in a shorter hospital stay and quick recover. A living kidney donation provides countless benefits including better outcomes for the recipient. Patients who receive a kidney from a living donor have a great chance for a healthier longer life than deceased donor kidneys. This donor can be a friend, relative or an anonymous donor. Your team and physician will work together to ensure you have the best-personalized care.

Living Kidney Donor Candidates

UofL Health – Jewish Hospital performed its first living donor kidney transplant in 1964 with survival outcomes consistently above the standard living donor recipient statistics. In recent years, all patients who received a living donation organ were still alive and well one-year post-transplant as opposed to 97% of those recipients who received deceased organs.

Many people don’t realize that for kidneys, a living donation is an option. Potential donors will have special blood tests completed to ensure the correct match of blood type and tissue for the patient.

In order 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.

Generally speaking, living donors are in excellent health and undergo an extensive screening process. Living donors have a normal life span and require no special diet or restrictions. The final candidacy of each donor is determined after review of the evaluation by the End Stage Renal Disease Selection Committee. 

Learn more about becoming a living donor by contacting our transplant coordinators at 502-587-4358.

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
  • Tuberculosis
  • 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)
  • Lupus
  • Significant psychosocial instability or psychiatric disorders that may interfere with or prevent compliance

The Gift of Life

In addition to transplantation, UofL Health – Trager Transplant Center is actively involved with efforts to increase awareness of the need for organ donation in collaboration with Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates. Unfortunately, due to the lack of donated organs, many people never receive life saving transplants. Our transplant team encourages live donation, when appropriate.

Although you may never need a transplant, you can pass on the gift of life by registering to become an organ donor today. Register today!

Our Location & Doctors

UofL Health – Trager Transplant Center
UofL Health – Jewish Hospital
220 Abraham Flexner Way, 3rd Floor
Louisville, KY 40202

Kidney Referrals: 502-587-4358

UofL Physicians – Nephrology
UofL Health – Chestnut Street Outpatient Center
401 E. Chestnut Street, Suite 690
Louisville, KY 40202
502-587-4358

Dylan Adamson, M.D.
Abdominal Transplant Surgeon – Surgical Director

Mary Eng, M.D.
Abdominal Transplant Surgeon – Surgical Director – Kidney

Chris Jones, M.D.
Abdominal Transplant Surgeon – Surgical Director – Liver

Hitarth Dave, M.D.
Transplant Nephrologist

Lina Mackelaite, M.D.
Transplant Nephrologist – Medical Director – Kidney

Karthikeyan Venkatachalam, M.D.
Transplant Nephrologist

Emily A. Atcher, P.A.-C.
Transplant Nephrology