Kidney Transplant | Kidney Disease

Kidney Transplant

Our skilled team ensures you receive seamless, personalized care before, during and after kidney transplant surgery.

Medically reviewed by Yihung Huang, M.D. on Oct. 18, 2023.

Surgeon performing a kidney transplant

Excellence in Kidney Transplant

The Kidney Transplant Program at UC Davis Health has focused on improving the lives of people with kidney failure for more than three decades. As one of the largest programs of its kind in the U.S., our team has extensive experience. We remain by your side with coordinated support, assistance and guidance throughout your transplant evaluation, surgery and follow-up care.


What Conditions Can Kidney Transplant Help Treat?

Kidney transplant is a surgical treatment for kidney failure. Chronic (long-term) kidney disease most often causes kidney failure.

The loss of kidney function in chronic kidney disease typically occurs over time. When people reach end-stage renal disease (when kidneys no longer work), they may become eligible for a kidney transplant.

Conditions that can lead to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure include:

Accidents, injuries and poison can cause rapid (acute) kidney failure and require emergency care. Usually, this type of kidney failure is temporary, but it can sometimes be permanent.


Types of Kidney Transplant

Deciding whether to have kidney transplant surgery can be complex. A kidney transplant allows freedom from dialysis but carries some risks.

Our team helps you understand the transplant process and decide whether kidney transplant may be right for you. The two types of kidney transplant include:

Living Donation Kidney Transplant

You receive a kidney from a healthy living donor. The donor may be a relative, friend, acquaintance, or someone you’ve never met. A living donor allows you to receive a kidney transplant much faster with a better-quality organ. Your living donor does not have to be compatible with you. Paired exchange programs will help find you a compatible living donor.

If you know someone who wants to donate an organ to you, please ask them to register.

Deceased Donor Kidney Transplant

If you do not have a living donor, you will have to wait to receive a kidney from someone who has recently died.

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Understanding Kidney Transplant

Kidney transplant starts with a detailed assessment of your kidney health and includes lifelong care after surgery. Our extensive experience helps us anticipate your needs and plan ahead, so you have the care and support you need.

  • Nurse taking blood pressure of a patient


    Kidney transplant evaluation includes meetings with key team members, a physical exam and a range of medical tests. Your specialist reviews the results with a transplant selection committee to determine whether you are eligible for a new kidney.

    Learn more about the evaluation process
  • Woman and man talking at a table

    Finding a Donor

    If you receive approval by our team, it’s important for you to try to find a living donor. Having a living donor helps you receive the transplant sooner with a good quality organ. If your living donor is not compatible with you, we are also a member of the National Kidney Registry which helps find a compatible match for you. Patients without living donors will generally need to wait many years on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list for a deceased donor kidney.

  • Physician performing living kidney transplant surgery

    Kidney Transplant Surgery

    Your new transplant kidney is placed in the lower part of your abdomen. You can expect to stay in the hospital for about 4 to 7 days. As you prepare to go home, you learn about immunosuppressants and other medications you must take. You also learn how to identify signs of rejection.

    Find out more about kidney surgery
  • Transplant nephrologist talking with a patient

    Post-Transplant Care

    Our transplant team follows you closely with frequent lab tests and visits. We are available 24 hours a day for questions or concerns. Eventually, your visits with the transplant team occur less often. It’s important to pay close attention to your health and see your local nephrologist and primary care provider routinely.

    Get more outpatient follow-up information

Risks of Kidney Transplant

Our close follow-up care after your surgery helps detect and treat issues early. In general, the risk of complications is low. Some of the potential problems that can occur include:

Surgical Complications

Risks of surgery include infection and allergic reaction to anesthesia medications.

Organ Rejection

Your immune system will see your transplanted kidney as foreign (not belonging to your body) and attack it. You must take immunosuppression medications for the rest of your life to help prevent rejection.

Delayed Function or Nonfunction

A kidney transplant from a living donor will function right away. However, some deceased donor kidney transplants can take days to weeks to function properly. You may need temporary dialysis if your transplanted kidney does not start working right away. Rarely, a deceased donor kidney may not work at all. In this case, you receive dialysis until a new kidney becomes available.


When to Contact Your Surgeon

Call your transplant team if you have any signs of infection or organ rejection. You will receive specific instruction at hospital discharge.

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