Pediatric Kidney Transplant FAQs for Donors

What is a kidney transplant?

It’s an operation in which a diseased kidney in one individual (the recipient) is replaced with a healthy kidney from another individual (the donor). Usually the donor kidney comes from a living donor, typically a family member or friend. In some cases, the kidney is taken from someone who has suffered brain death.

I understand that LPCH’s Kidney Transplant Program prefers living donor transplants. Why?

This program transplants more kidneys from living donors than the average for other centers in the United States. The data show that deceased-donor recipients suffer twice as many episodes of acute organ rejection as do living-donor recipients in the first three years following transplantation. This finding leads to the expectation that deceased-donor recipients will be more at risk of transplant rejection over the long term than will living-donor recipients. As a result, the Kidney Transplantation Program prefers living-donor transplants.

Who is the most likely living donor for a given child?

A parent is usually the best match, although sometimes an aunt or uncle may become a donor. Occasionally, unrelated donors with a good match can be found. Siblings under the age of 21 are ineligible to donate a kidney because they are too young to consent legally to the procedure.

If I am selected as a kidney donor, how long will the recovery period be?

LPCH has been a leader in the use of what is known as minimal-incision nephrectomy (kidney removal). The incision is only 3 inches long, about one-third the length of the standard open-incision nephrectomy. This approach also eliminates the additional smaller incisions used in nephrectomy via laparoscope. Not only does the donor recover faster with the minimal-incision nephrectomy. Donor kidneys transplanted with this technique function more quickly in the recipient than do kidneys removed with the laparoscopic approach.