at One of North Carolina’s Best Kidney Transplant Centers
If you need kidney transplant surgery, you can feel confident choosing Duke for your care. Our transplant team has extensive experience performing thousands of complex kidney transplants that improve the quality of our patients’ lives. Our kidney transplant team supports you through every step of your journey.
Choosing a Kidney Transplant Center
Here are some of the questions you should ask when choosing a kidney transplant center, and why you can feel confident choosing Duke. If your child is facing kidney failure, you'll want to learn about our experienced pediatric kidney transplant team.
What kidney transplant experience does your center have?
Our transplant team has performed more than 3,750 kidney transplants since Duke performed North Carolina’s first kidney transplant in 1965. The team now averages 150 kidney transplant procedures annually and has the collective experience to handle virtually any situation that arises.
In addition to our experience taking care of patients, we are also defining what kidney transplant is like nationwide. Many of our transplant team members hold leadership positions in the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and other national transplant organizations.
What types of patients receive kidney transplants at your center?
We transplant people with end-stage kidney disease, including those with complex medical problems and multiple chronic conditions such as heart disease; hepatitis C (with or without cirrhosis); obesity (with the highest BMI cut off in the state), type-1 diabetes, HIV, and sickle cell disease.
Our sickest patients are often those who need more than one organ transplanted at the same time; we do more dual organ transplants (including heart-kidney, lung-kidney, liver-kidney, and pancreas-kidney) than any other center in the state and most centers in our region.
- Our heart, lung, and liver transplant programs are the largest in North Carolina and achieve exceptional outcomes, some of the best in the state, region, and nation.
- Children are treated by the pediatric transplant surgeons in Duke’s pediatric kidney transplant program.
What is the difference between deceased kidney donors and living kidney donors?
Kidneys for transplant become available from a person who has died, or from a healthy living person -- usually a close relative or friend who is willing to donate. An altruistic donor is a living individual who donates a kidney to an unknown recipient.
- More than 30 percent of our kidney transplant patients receive their kidneys from living donors. These kidney donors are carefully screened through extensive blood work and a complete medical evaluation. Learn more about our living kidney donation program.
- Living kidney donation has a significantly higher success rate than a deceased donor transplant. On average, kidneys transplanted from live donors last nearly twice as long as kidneys transplanted from deceased donors -- sometimes up to 30 years or more. Kidneys from living donors often function sooner, perform better, and result in fewer complications for the recipient.
- If a living donor is not a match for his/her an intended recipient, it is possible to take part in our center’s organ exchange. Donors essentially “trade” recipients so that each recipient receives a matching organ.
- Other options, including blood type incompatible transplants and desensitization treatment plans, are also available and tailored to the needs of each donor/recipient pair.
What is the average wait time for a kidney at your center?
If you are considered a candidate for kidney transplantation but do not have a potential living donor, you will be wait-listed in a national database maintained and administered by UNOS.
While our waiting times are on par with national averages, we prepare our patients to be transplanted as quickly as possible, by getting them from their referral to their evaluation faster than any center in North Carolina. We have the largest active waiting list in the state, meaning more of our patients are ready to get a kidney when a kidney is offered.
How well do your patients do following kidney transplant surgery?
While many of our patients experience complex, complicated medical problems not seen at other centers, our one- and three-year kidney and patient survival rates meet or exceed statistical expectations when compared to the U.S. average.
Do you participate in kidney transplantation research?
Our leadership in kidney transplantation research gives you access to the most up-to-date, evidence-based practices available. You may have access to new therapies not widely available through our clinical trials.
If you are interested in making an appointment, please contact your nephrologist to submit a referral.
The Kidney Transplant Process
We offer a comprehensive and convenient one-day/one-location evaluation that includes education, consent, all needed labs, nephrology and surgery appointments, as well as meetings with a financial counselor, social worker, and dietitian. You will be assigned a kidney transplant coordinator to facilitate your transplant evaluation and listing.
We educate you about planning your visit, your emotional and physical needs before and after the kidney transplant procedure, the medications you will need to take, and the recovery process. Our care guides outline what you can expect including how to prepare for your transplant surgery and how to care for your body after your transplant.
For urgent matters, a kidney transplant coordinator is on-call 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Additionally, a kidney transplant doctor is on call at all times for any needs that arise.
We involve your designated caregivers (family members or friends) from the time of your first evaluation through recovery. They attend each of your appointments, and we educate them about their important role in taking care of you after surgery. They are our partners in restoring your health as quickly as possible.
These sessions, led by social workers, give transplant patients and their loved ones a chance to meet with others for emotional support, to ask questions and share information about issues such as medications, nutrition and exercise.