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Kidney Transplant Surgery

If you’re considering a kidney transplant, it’s common to have questions or concerns about the surgery itself. At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, our comprehensive transplant team can help you understand what to expect during kidney transplant surgery.

Our skilled transplant surgeons successfully perform more than 250 kidney transplant surgeries each year, more than any other center in Missouri. Because of that extensive experience, we ensure the highest level of care for our patients.

Kidney Transplant Surgery: What to Expect

Kidney transplant surgery typically takes 2 to 4 hours, and our transplant anesthesiologists use general anesthesia to keep you pain-free throughout the procedure.

  • Leading up to surgery: If you are receiving a kidney directly from a living donor, both the donor and the recipient are admitted to the hospital the morning of the surgery. For deceased donor kidney transplant and other types of living donor transplant (such as through a paired-kidney exchange), we call you when we have a donor kidney available and ready for you. Once you arrive at the hospital for surgery, our team reviews your blood work and takes a chest X-ray. These tests ensure the safety and success of the transplant surgery.
  • Transplant surgery: During kidney transplant surgery, our specialists:
  1. Give you a general anesthetic to keep you safe and comfortable
  2. Make an incision in your lower abdomen
  3. Connect the renal artery and vein of the new kidney to your artery and vein, creating blood flow through the kidney
  4. Connect the ureter, or tube coming down from the donor kidney, into the bladder
  • Immediately after surgery: Once surgery is complete, we move you to the transplant floor and monitor you closely for the first 24 hours. For most patients, the new kidney starts working right away. Sometimes, however, it can take several days for the donor kidney to “wake up.” In these cases, we can use dialysis as a temporary bridge until your new kidney starts functioning on its own.
  • The days after surgery: If there are no complications, most patients stay in the hospital for four days. It is important for you to remain nearby in the weeks following surgery, so we can monitor your care closely. Read more about what to expect.

Kidney Transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital: Why Choose Us?

Our kidney transplant specialists work together to provide an expert level of care during kidney transplant surgery. We offer:

  • Experience: Our team of transplant specialists, including surgeons, physicians, operating room staff, social workers, dieticians, inpatient nurses and transplant coordinator nurses, has a passion for helping patients live fuller, healthier lives through kidney transplant. Because we perform a high number of kidney transplants, our specialists are highly skilled in performing even the most complex transplant surgeries. Meet our kidney transplant team.
  • Excellent outcomes: Our short- and long-term kidney rejection rates are consistently below the national average, which means you can feel confident we’ll provide exceptional care.
  • Multi-organ expertise: Our transplant team has extensive experience completing complex multi-organ transplants such as kidney-liver, kidney-heart, and kidney-pancreas. Learn more about the benefits our patients experience at our Transplant Center.
  • Access to clinical trials: As part of Washington University, our doctors are actively involved in several promising kidney transplant research studies. Before surgery, one of our transplant research coordinators may approach you about the benefits of a possible clinical trial. A clinical trial will never affect your care in a negative way. Participation in a research study is voluntary.

Contact Us

For more information about the kidney transplant program at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, call 888.998.7713.