Kidney Transplant Care

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Norton Children’s Nephrology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, offers pediatric kidney transplant care for children and teens. Our Renal Dialysis and Kidney Transplant Clinic offers coordinated care for children and teens undergoing hemodialysis/peritoneal dialysis as well as those needing a kidney transplant.

Our clinic is staffed by a team that includes a psychologist, dietitian, social workers and care coordinators dedicated to children and families going through the process of kidney transplantation.

What Is a Kidney Transplant?

A kidney transplant is a surgery in which a child’s failing kidney is removed and replaced with a donated kidney from another person. Donated kidneys can come from a living donor who is either related or unrelated to the child, or a deceased organ donor.

When Does a Child Need a Kidney Transplant?

A kidney transplant often is the best treatment for stage 5 chronic kidney disease, also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Conditions that can lead to ESRD can include:

  • Congenital diseases of the kidneys and urinary tract, including vesicoureteral reflux and polycystic kidney disease
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Alport syndrome
  • Chronic pyelonephritis
  • Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS)
  • Lupus nephritis
  • Membranous nephritis
  • Berger’s disease or IgA nephropathy
  • Goodpasture syndrome
  • Henoch-Schonlein purpura
  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome
  • Nail-patella syndrome
  • Nephropathic and juvenile cystinosis
  • Oxalosis
  • Wegener granulomatosis

Evaluation for Pediatric Kidney Transplant

A child will need an evaluation to confirm a kidney transplant is the next step in their treatment. The evaluation will include working with a transplant coordinator and the Norton Children’s Nephrology Renal Dialysis and Kidney Transplant Clinic team to assess the level of urgency of the child’s condition and donor options. Medical testing also will be performed, including:

  • Bladder X-ray to identify issues that could affect the donor kidney
  • Kidney and liver function testing
  • Kidney ultrasound
  • Testing for blood type (kidney donors and recipients must have compatible blood types)
  • Screening for conditions such as:
    • Hepatitis A, B and C
    • HIV
    • Cytomegalovirus
    • Epstein-Barr virus
    • Herpes simplex virus

The Renal Dialysis and Kidney Transplant Clinic team will consider all information, including the child’s medical history, physical exam and testing results as well as other factors, to determine if a kidney transplant is right for the child. Should the child be a candidate for a transplant, the team will work with the family to educate them on the risks and benefits of transplant, as well as long-term care of the kidney. The transplant team will help determine the best time for a transplant, as well as identify a living donor and schedule the procedure. Should a living donor be unavailable, the child will be placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing waiting list to find a suitable donor.

Following a kidney transplant, the child is given a unique treatment plan from the transplant clinic. They are followed in the clinic until they are ready for care with an adult nephrologist.

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