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Kidney Transplant

A kidney transplant is a treatment for advanced kidney failure – often caused by diabetes or high blood pressure. During this surgery, doctors implant a kidney from a living or deceased donor. Getting a new kidney renews your energy and health. It frees you from needing regular dialysis to remove toxins and perform other vital functions. You’ll also be free of many diet and dialysis-related restrictions.

If you have life-threatening kidney failure, your doctor may refer you to Temple Health’s transplant team. Nephrologists (kidney doctors) and other specialists discuss details – including kidney transplant complications, risks and benefits – to see whether it’s right for you.

The Kidney Transplant Procedure

There are two options for a kidney transplant - a living donor or a deceased donor. Your family members or other volunteers may be tested to determine if they are a suitable match for living kidney donation. If we don’t find a living donor match, you’ll go on a national waitlist for a deceased donor.

When it’s time for your surgery, a transplant coordinator (nurse specialist) will guide you through the process and surgery preparation, including:

  • Placing lines, such as an IV, a bladder tube for urine, heart and blood pressure monitors, and a mouth tube attached to a ventilator
  • Shaving and sterilizing operating areas
  • Positioning you on your back
  • A doctor gives you general anesthesia and checks heart rate, blood pressure and breathing during surgery.

Your surgeon makes an incision in your lower abdomen. It may take three or four hours to place the kidney. This includes connecting the donor organ blood vessels to yours, checking blood flow and connecting the ureter (drains urine) to your bladder.

Surgeons close the incision and add protective dressing.

Criteria for a Kidney Transplant Procedure

Requirements for children or adults include:

  • Chronic advanced or end-stage renal disease
  • Strong heart and blood vessels
  • No infections or disease
  • No smoking or substance abuse
  • Financial, practical and emotional support
Kidney Transplant Recovery
  • After surgery, you’ll go to recovery for observation before resting in your hospital room. Your team will discuss these or other details:
  • You may need dialysis until your kidney makes urine.
  • You’ll receive IV fluids, slowly progressing toward limited liquids and solids.
  • You’ll have pain medication for any discomfort.
  • Your team will monitor medications and kidney or other functions.
  • Within a day, you’ll get out of bed and move around.

Hospital stays range from five days to a week or more. Kidney transplant donors typically stay two days. Before leaving, your care team will instruct you. You’ll learn about transplant side effects, preventive steps and follow-up care. Your nurse will discuss blood pressure management and kidney failure symptoms. A dietitian will discuss your kidney transplant diet.

You’ll need lifelong immune-suppressing medications so your immune system won’t attack your new kidney. Once home, you can relax or walk. Your physical therapist may suggest exercises but avoid strenuous lifting. Most people return to normal routines in two or three months. Full recovery takes six months or more.

Temple Health’s Transplant Edge

At Temple Health, many specialists cooperate to manage kidney failure. With decades of nephrology and transplant surgery experience, we understand complex kidney disease. You receive top-level care and therapies. Highlights include:

  • Skilled teams – “Top Doctors” and Best Doctors in America® rank Temple Health doctors among the best. Temple University Hospital is also recognized as High-Performing for Nephrology from U.S. News & World Report. Our specialists manage kidney and related conditions, such as cancer or diabetes. Learn about your care team.
  • Innovative care – Temple Health doctors apply the latest evidence-based findings to your care. We partner with academic pioneers who explore every detail – from T-cells to transplant immunology – to advance new therapies.
  • Transplant success – Our program has successfully treated hundreds of transplant patients. Temple’s kidney transplant program consistently transplants patients at a higher rate than the national average.*
  • Acute-care hospitalTemple University Hospital (TUH) is one of the region's most respected academic medical centers. As Temple’s acute care cornerstone, TUH ensures exceptional cross-specialty care.

*According to the July 2021 Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients report.

Ready for an Appointment?

Find a doctor near you, request an appointment, or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.