Kidney & Kidney/Pancreas Transplant
The University of Chicago Medicine has performed thousands of kidney and pancreas transplants since the procedures were first introduced--more than any other hospital in Illinois. And, year after year, our success rates consistently equal or exceed national averages.
Together our physicians and nurses have more than 250 years of experience in kidney and pancreas care. Our surgeons have conducted thousands of transplant surgeries, earning national and international recognition for their surgical expertise and research. They work side-by-side with specially trained transplant nephrologists, endocrinologists, infectious disease specialists, and nurses who provide unmatched expertise before and after a transplant.
Our team also includes a transplant pharmacist, dietitian, social worker, financial counselor, and other support staff who work solely with transplant patients.
All Transplant Options Available
We consult one-on-one with patients and their families to determine which specific surgical methods and medical treatments are best. These options may include:
- Kidney-only transplants for people with kidney failure. This surgery typically eliminates the need for dialysis, and patients report increased energy and other positive health changes. We perform both:
- Living donor kidney transplants
- Deceased donor kidney transplants
- Combined kidney-pancreas transplants for patients who have type 1 diabetes and significant kidney disease. During the same operation, patients receive a kidney and pancreas from the same deceased donor. For many diabetics with kidney failure, this procedure provides the greatest hope for a life without dialysis or insulin injections.
Our surgeons also perform pancreas-only and islet transplants for patients with type 1 diabetes. »More information about pancreas & islet transplant
Minimally Invasive Surgery for Kidney Donors
In recent years, all of the living donor kidney surgeries performed at the University of Chicago have been done laparoscopically. Only a few small incisions are now needed to remove a kidney. Typically, living kidney donors are out of the hospital in two days and are often back to work in two to three weeks.
Our transplant surgeons perform laparoscopic kidney donor surgeries on an almost weekly basis. Because of their high level of experience, they are even able to perform this operation on donors who are considered higher-risk because of previous surgeries or other medical problems, such as obesity.
- Living Donor Welcome Booklet (PDF): Get an overview about our living donor program, patient and family amenities, and maps and directions to our campus
- Living Donors: What You Can Expect (PDF): This helpful guide outlines basics about who can be a living donor, what to expect before and after surgery, and answers other common questions about kidney donation.
Access to New Therapies
If something is discovered in kidney transplant care, chances are our physicians and researchers are aware of it. In some cases, they are even involved in the discovery. For instance, our physicians have been investigating why transplant patients are at risk of losing organs from a common virus, called the polyoma virus. They are at the forefront of developing new methods for treating the virus, hopefully keeping more patients’ transplants healthier.
Experts in Re-Transplants and Other Complicated Cases
Because the University of Chicago Medicine has a high level of expertise, our surgeons and physicians commonly take on patients who may be considered too risky for transplantation--saving or enhancing many lives each year.
Most recently, we have been performing an increasing number of re-transplants on patients who received organs in the past. Re-transplant patients require more careful management than first-time transplants because the body is more likely to reject an organ after a second or third transplant.
Increasing the Number of Kidneys Available
In the United States, there are simply not enough organs available for transplant. To help correct this deficiency, we have made major efforts on several fronts to increase the number of organs available.
- We are helping more patients find appropriate living kidney donors. Improvements in anti-rejection therapies now allow kidney transplants to occur between unrelated individuals.
- We are also working diligently to increase the number of organs from deceased donors that are available for transplant. For instance, we regularly use a special perfusion pump to rehabilitate deceased donor kidneys that may not have been usable in the past.
- Recognizing that the long waiting list of patients far outnumbers the available donors, our doctors are evaluating ways of increasing kidney transplants through the careful evaluation and potential utilization of donors that in the past have been rejected.
Our nephrologists work side-by-side with revered diabetes experts in our Section of Endocrinology to treat diabetic nephrology. The University of Chicago is also home to top experts in other kidney diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus and primary glomerular diseases.
We may perform a large number of transplants, but we become very close to each and every one of our patients. During the months leading up to transplant surgery, each patient is assigned to a pre-transplant coordinator, or a registered nurse with a special expertise in transplant care. Your pre-transplant coordinator will arrange all of your tests and consultations. She or he is your personal advocate, and is always there to address any questions or concerns.
We follow patients very carefully after transplant. All patients visit our Post-Transplant Clinic for regular check ups. In between visits, patients can always reach one of our post-transplant nurses by phone or page--anytime day or night.