Pediatric Kidney Transplant

A kidney transplant can help your child lead a healthy life when he or she faces kidney failure. Our experienced pediatric kidney transplant team performs successful transplants in children using kidneys from deceased and living donors and provides your child with innovative, personalized transplant care. Our goal is to get your child back to his or her normal routine and activities as quickly as possible using both compassion and advanced therapies.

Choosing Duke for your Child’s Kidney Transplant

If a kidney transplant has been recommended for your child, you may have many questions:

  • What is the kidney transplant team’s experience?
  • What services are provided to address your child’s emotional needs?

We understand your concerns and want you to feel confident in choosing Duke’s pediatric kidney transplant program for your child’s care.

We work as a team to treat the most complex end-stage kidney disease cases. Our dedicated pediatric kidney transplant team includes pediatric kidney doctors (transplant nephrologists), transplant surgeons, pediatric urologists, pediatric anesthesiologists, infectious disease experts, nurse coordinators, psychologists, child life specialists, transplant social workers, and nutritionists. We work together to diagnose and manage the full spectrum of end-stage kidney disease and serious kidney problems in children.

Often, our team successfully transplants difficult cases other centers have declined. Despite the fact that we take on some of the toughest challenges, data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients -- a national database of transplant statistics -- show that our one- and three-year pediatric patient and graft survival rates after kidney transplantation are among the best in the nation. Our excellent graft survival rates after three years reflect our pediatric transplant expertise and commitment to ensuring your child maintains his or her transplanted kidney for many years.   

Three-Year Patient Survival Rate

Three-Year Graft Survival Rate

We are the only program in North Carolina with significant experience performing multi-organ transplants, including pediatric liver-kidney and heart-kidney transplants. Additionally, we collaborate with our pediatric specialists in heart, lung, liver, and intestinal transplantation to ensure successful outcomes for our young patients.

Duke Children’s is one of only seven hospitals in the U.S. verified as a level I children's surgery center by the American College of Surgeons. This Level I designation recognizes our commitment to providing the safest and highest-quality surgical care to our young patients.

Our leadership in pediatric kidney transplantation gives us access to the most up-to-date practices available. As a result, our transplant doctors are constantly improving surgery techniques and anti-rejection medication regimens. As an example, Duke is one of the few pediatric programs nationwide to offer both calcineurin-free and steroid-free anti-rejection medication tailored to the individual child. This option eliminates the long-term side effects associated with steroid use and helps the transplanted kidney function longer.

Our experienced doctors determine which safe and effective alternative drugs may be most appropriate for your child based on close monitoring, his or her immune system, and the specifics of his or her transplant.

Kidney Transplants in Children from Living and Deceased Donors

We encourage living donor transplantation -- a kidney from a living person, usually a friend or relative, although it can also be a stranger -- whenever possible. People who receive kidneys from living donors can have fewer complications than those who receive kidneys from deceased donors.

We are one of only a handful of pediatric programs in the country to offer the option of a paired donor kidney exchange. This becomes available when a potential living kidney donor turns out not to be a match to your child. Our paired kidney exchange program allows donors to “swap” recipients so that each receives a compatible organ.

We are also the only pediatric program in the region to offer incompatible blood-type living donor transplants. This makes living kidney donor transplants possible when the donor and recipient have incompatible blood types.

If your child is considered a candidate for kidney transplantation but does not have a potential living donor, he or she will be waitlisted in a national database maintained and administered by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Our pediatric transplant team is available 24 hours a day to respond to offers of a kidney for your child.

While our waiting times are on par with national averages, we prepare your children to be transplanted as quickly as possible by getting them from their referral to their evaluation faster than any center in North Carolina. 


Family-Friendly Services

We understand that your child’s kidney transplant journey can take an emotional toll on your child and your family. Our entire pediatric kidney transplant team meets with you to explain your child’s condition and to answer any questions you may have. We do everything we can to make sure you and your child understand and are comfortable with every phase of the transplant process. This includes providing you with information, reassurance, support, and compassion.

The Pediatric Kidney Transplant Process

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