Loma Linda University Medical Center and Children’s Hospital (LLUMC&CH) Transplantation Institute has extensive experience in kidney transplants, performing over 2,000 kidney transplants and more than 200 kidney-pancreas transplants since 1967. As a leader in adult and pediatric kidney procedures, our dedicated and knowledgeable Kidney Transplant Team works together to ensure patients and their families receive compassionate whole-person care from initial evaluation through recovery.
To decide if a kidney transplant is the best treatment option for you, patients must have an evaluation at the Transplantation Institute. In most cases, the evaluation process involves many steps. The initial visit is comprised of a physical evaluation, a psycho-social evaluation, laboratory tests and financial consultation. You and your family will also attend a transplant education class.
Testing is ordered as needed for each individual patient as indicated by age, disease or medical condition. Tests may include:
- Recent history and physical exam
- Blood tests (e.g. tissue typing, blood typing, antibody screening, viral testing)
- Chest x-ray
- EKG (electrocardiogram)
- Renal/abdominal ultrasound
- Dental evaluation
- Mammogram (women only)
- Gynecological examination and PAP smear (women only)
During your first visit, the doctor will review your records, examining your past medical and surgical history. You‘ll meet with your transplant nurse coordinator to help make arrangements for special tests to complete your medical evaluation. A financial coordinator will also discuss your options and medical insurance coverage. The last specialist you will meet on your initial evaluation will be the transplant social worker.
After completing your tests, the Patient Selection Committee meets to discuss your case. Comprised of transplant surgeons, a transplant nephrologist, transplant nurse coordinators, a financial coordinator, an immunologist and transplant social worker, the committee discusses any concerns and determines if you are eligible for the organ donor waiting list. If they decide that you are a good candidate for transplant, the transplant coordinator will contact you.
When the committee recommends you for a kidney transplant, your name will be placed, or “activated,” on the UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) Wait List. UNOS is the national organ donor waiting list. If you have a living donor, then their evaluation can begin now.
Waiting for an Organ
Deceased Donor Option
All accepted transplant patients are entered into UNOS’ national database. UNOS is a national agency formed to help match and distribute deceased donor organs equally to patients waiting for transplant. When a kidney becomes available, the patient with the best match (determined by blood and tissue type) and the longest wait time will be contacted.
Waiting for your transplant is a stressful period. During this time, the Transplantation Institute will keep in touch with you on a yearly basis. However, please contact us at anytime should you need help and support. Also, notify your transplant coordinator immediately if any of the following happen while waiting for your transplant:
- Blood transfusion
- Change in telephone number or address
- Going on vacation or out of town
- Change in medical insurance
- Change in health status
Living Donor Option
If you identify a living donor willing to offer a kidney, the potential donor will speak to the living donor nurse coordinator to discuss living donation, medical history, height, weight and blood pressure. Potential donors undergo three initial blood tests to check for compatibility. Once determined that the potential donor and recipient are compatible, additional testing such as blood tests, urine tests, chest x-ray, an electrocardiogram (EKG) and CAT scan is performed. This testing safeguards the donor’s health and ensures the donor has adequate kidney function.
Generally, the donor evaluation period takes approximately two months to complete. Once the evaluation is complete and reviewed by our transplant committee, a date for the transplant surgery will be set.
Deceased Donor Transplants
When a compatible donor kidney becomes available, the transplant coordinator will contact you. You will need to come to the hospital immediately. Be prepared not to eat or drink within hours of the phone call, since your surgery will be performed as soon as possible.
Upon being admitted to the hospital, you will undergo several tests and an evaluation to prepare for surgery. An IV (intravenous) line is inserted and immunosuppressive medications are administered to protect you from rejection.
The actually kidney transplant surgery generally takes about two to three hours. The new kidney will be placed in the left or right groin area. Your transplant surgeon will watch for signs that the kidney is healthy and has good blood supply.
Living Donor Transplants
If you will receive a kidney from a living donor, the surgery can be planned at anytime. One to two weeks before surgery, a final physical examination and several routine tests are performed to ensure both donor and recipient are healthy. Additionally, a final crossmatch is performed to ensure both individuals are compatible.
On the day of the scheduled surgery, the donor and recipient are admitted to the hospital. The surgery takes approximately four hours and is performed under general anesthesia. For the removal of the donor kidney, LLUMC’s transplant surgeon performs laproscopic hand-assisted donor nephrectomy – a cutting-edge technique that reduces recovery time and pain for the living donor. This surgical procedure uses tiny surgical instruments to remove the kidney through a relatively small incision.
After surgery, you will stay in the hospital for about four to six days. Within two days of surgery, the Kidney Transplant Team will help you walk to prevent complications, build strength and speed up recovery. Before leaving LLUMC’s transplant unit, the transplant team will also instruct you on medications, diet, signs of rejection or infection and everything else you need to know to stay healthy.
Following transplant, you’ll return to the Transplantation Institute for follow-up visits and lab tests to monitor blood count, kidney function, electrolytes and medication levels in your blood. The transplant team may also perform a kidney biopsy and kidney ultrasound to monitor your progress.
Through your recovery, you must become an active participant in preserving your health by regularly monitoring certain vital signs including body temperature, blood pressure and body weight. You must also take your medications appropriately and responsibly for the rest of your life. As you resume normal activities six to twelve weeks after transplantation, the transplant team will closely follow you throughout your recovery.
With the accessibility of our facilities and ease of scheduling an appointment, LLUMC’s compassionate staff is dedicated to providing you with whole-person care. Our commitment to the well-being of your mind, body and spirit begins with your request for an appointment. Make an appointment by calling us toll-free at 1-800-548-3790 or locally at 909-558-3636, by filling out our online request form, or by visiting our facilities today.
Download additional educational materials
Transplant Welcome Packet
The Transplant Patient Englisth
The Transplant Patient Spanish
Kidney Transplant Educational Guide English