The Transplant Procedure
Kidney transplant surgery takes about three to six hours. The patient’s own kidneys are usually left in place and the new kidney is placed in the front of the body (in the lower portion of the abdomen, either on the right or left, near the hip bone).
After surgery, patients are in the recovery room for several hours and then move directly back to the hospital’s transplant unit.
After the Transplant
A new life with a transplanted organ begins in the hospital, right after the transplant operation.
Living donor transplant recipients usually remain in the hospital for three to four nights. Deceased donor transplant recipients may need a longer stay but the average is five to six days.
During the hospital stay, transplant recipients are carefully monitored and tested. Patients also receive extensive training on self-care at home and the drugs needed to protect the transplanted organ from rejection (called immunosuppressants).
Receiving a kidney transplant is a life-altering operation with potentially great benefits. But receiving a transplant also means a lifetime of medication, frequent follow-up visits and ongoing monitoring by nurses, surgeons and transplant nephrologists at UVA.
After Leaving the Hospital
After leaving the hospital, patients will need to check their own vital signs daily (temperature, weight, blood pressure and pulse) and take prescribed medications. Transplant recipients also complete regularly scheduled routine lab tests (at a laboratory convenient to home):
- From 0-3 months, twice per week
- From 4-6 months, once per week
- From 6-9 months, once every two weeks
- Monthly thereafter
Routine follow-up appointments are scheduled after a transplant. Although the patient and transplant team jointly remain focused on the good health of the patient, the patient now holds the key to success. Faithful adherence to medications and lab tests along with annual reviews at our clinic give the greatest level of assurance that the transplanted kidney will continue to function.