Our pediatric transplant surgeons perform kidney transplants in infants, children, and adolescents with kidneys from both deceased and living donors. With some of the best survival rates in the country, we strive to get your child back to the activities they love safely and quickly.
Getting the Call for a Donor Kidney
When a potential donor kidney is matched to your child, your transplant coordinator will call you. If we cannot reach you at your contact numbers within one hour, the offer will go to the next person on the list. We will ask questions to see how your child is feeling. If they have a fever, cold, or active infection, they cannot get a transplant until they feel better. Otherwise, you and your child will need to arrive at Duke as soon as possible.
If you want to make an appointment for a pediatric kidney transplant evaluation for your child, please contact us. Our team can help with next steps.
Before your child can be transplanted, the transplant team will also do a crossmatch test for antibodies. Stored blood samples from your child are mixed with the donor’s blood. A negative crossmatch means your child does not have antibodies to the donor, and it is safe to perform a transplant. If the test is positive, it means your child has antibodies that would attack the donor kidney, so your child will not be transplanted with this kidney.
Kidney transplant surgery is performed at Duke Children's Hospital and Health Center. Pre- and post-transplant appointments take place at our kidney transplant clinic within Duke Children's.
Arriving at the Hospital
Once your child arrives at Duke, the transplant team will perform more tests to make sure the kidney is a good match for your child. These include:
- Blood tests
- Chest X-ray
If the kidney is compatible with your child, they will be prepared for surgery. Sometimes, the test results show that a donor kidney is not healthy enough or is not a good match. If this happens, your child will be sent home. They will not lose their place on the waitlist and will continue to get offers. Our goal is to give your child a kidney that stays healthy for a long time.
Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in nine pediatric specialties.
During kidney transplantation, your child’s surgeon will place the donor kidney into your child’s body through an incision in the lower abdomen. The tube (ureter) from the new kidney will be connected to your child’s bladder. In most cases, the original kidneys will remain in place, but they may be removed if the new kidney needs extra space, if your child has frequent kidney infections, or for other health reasons.
Your child may have a ureteral stent placed during the surgery. This helps the new ureter stay open while your child’s body heals from surgery. It will be removed in six to eight weeks. Pediatric kidney transplant surgery takes four to five hours, and you will be updated about your child’s condition throughout the procedure.