Dual Kidney Transplants

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The Need for Kidney Donations

In the US, we have more people on dialysis waiting for a kidney transplant than we have available kidneys. The wait time for a donor kidney averages about five years. Data shows that people have an approximately 50% chance of surviving the five-year wait.

That’s why, at UVA, we’re doing everything we can to get organs to donors. We’re applying our expertise and experience to use kidneys other centers can’t to save more lives.

Types of Double Kidney Transplants

We currently perform two types of innovative, dual kidney transplants: The 2-for-1 adult kidney transplant and pediatric en-blocs. Both of these procedures require careful, precise evaluations and skill. At UVA, we’ve had good outcomes with both.

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Who is a Candidate for Dual Kidney Transplants?

Several criteria play a role in a patient’s suitability for a dual kidney transplant. We’re very selective in choosing both the kidney pair and the recipient to maximize results.

Patients with the best chance of success have:

  • Little to no history of complicated surgeries
  • A small enough physical size that won’t overload the kidneys
  • Uncompromised immune systems

Surgical History

Several past procedures or transplants make surgeries, especially major operations like transplant, more complicated. In these cases, surgeons must factor in weaker areas of the body, like previous incisions and scar tissue, as they plan the procedure. The increased risk of these complicating factors, as well as time involved, could disqualify you from consideration for a dual kidney transplant.

Additionally, some patients with stomach issues may not fare well with a double kidney surgery, due to the fact that the procedure requires a cut down the middle of the abdomen.


When matching donor kidneys with potential recipients, surgeons must consider size. A small kidney in a large person will have to work harder to clean the larger body and won’t perform as well as it would in a smaller body.

This doesn’t mean that a tall or large person can’t have a kidney transplant. But because surgeons need a kidney-recipient match with a high degree of potential success, obesity can rule someone out of eligibility for receiving them.


Pregnancies, transfusions and previous organ transplants expose a person’s immune system to other humans. This exposure can limit your ability to accept donor organs.

Each incidence of exposure increases the chance that your body has developed antibodies to certain human proteins. If that happens and you receive an organ with those same proteins, your body’s immune system will attack it and reject it.

Surgeons will not consider a person with this kind of medical history for the dual kidney transplant because of the high a likelihood of organ rejection.