Kidney Transplant

A surgeon operates in an endovascular lab


Kidney transplant is a surgical procedure that removes one healthy kidney from one person and places it in another person who suffers from kidney disease or failure, allowing the transplanted kidney to perform the duties that the patient’s two failed kidneys cannot do.

  • Living donor (donates kidney): While the patient is unconscious and pain-free (general anesthesia), an incision is made in the side of the abdomen (flank). The kidney is removed and the incision is closed.
  • Kidney recipient (receives kidney): While the patient is unconscious and pain-free (general anesthesia), an incision is made in the lower abdomen. The new kidney is stitched into place within the pelvis and the incision is closed.

The kidney is placed inside the patient’s body between the upper thigh and abdomen. The surgeon connects the artery and vein of the new kidney to the patient’s artery and vein. The new kidney may start working right away or take a few weeks to create urine.

The kidney transplant surgery can take anywhere from three to six hours, with the average hospital stay lasting from five to seven days. After leaving the hospital, the patient requires regular follow-up visits. If a relative or close friend donates the kidney, the donor probably will stay in the hospital for less than a week, providing there are no complications.


Types of Donors

  • Living-Related Donor: A live family member who donates a kidney.
  • Cadaver Donor: A donor who recently has died but did not suffer from kidney disease or injury.
  • Living-Unrelated Donor: A spouse or friend who donates a kidney.

A donor’s blood and tissues must closely match the patient’s to help prevent the body’s immune system from rejecting the new kidney. Tests on blood cells will be conducted to find out if the body will accept the new kidney.

The time it takes to get a kidney varies. The patient must be placed on a waiting list to receive a cadaver donor kidney. However, if a relative donates a kidney, the transplant operation can be done sooner.

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What's New

Patient Story - Mary Bell & Dr. Joe Bailey

Mary Bell, a retired critical care nurse, and cardiologist Dr. Joe Bailey met under extraordinary circumstances through UT Medical Center. Five years ago, Mary decided to donate one of her healthy kidneys to a complete stranger. Dr. Bailey was that stranger. Mary’s selfless act saved Joe’s life. Now they share a powerful connection and very special friendship.
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Becky - Life-Saving Kidney Transplant

March is National Kidney Month and we are inspired by the story of Becky, a patient who received a life-saving kidney transplant earlier this year. At the age of 26, Becky learned via routine lab work that, despite being young, active, and healthy, she had a renal insufficiency. In 2018, a kidney biopsy determined that she had developed Focal Segmented Glomerular Sclerosis, better known as FSGS, making the possibility of dialysis and a kidney transplant likely.
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Nurse Donates Her Kidney to Her Co-Worker

A nurse at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit said she felt led to help her co-worker after she found out she was in need of a kidney.

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The Gift of Life – The Impact of Living Donation

The two leading causes of chronic kidney disease are high blood pressure and diabetes. Our program offers patients with type I diabetes the opportunity for pancreas transplant.

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