Pediatric Kidney Transplant

SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital provides a full range of pediatric kidney transplant services before, during, and after transplant. Learning your child needs a kidney transplant can be scary, but our team of SLUCare Physician Group experts will be by your side the entire way.

In children, kidney failure is usually the result of genetic diseases, primary glomerulonephritis, or birth defects. Sometimes treating the condition that is causing kidney failure can help the kidneys heal. But, if that isn’t an option and does not work then your doctor could recommend a kidney transplant.

A kidney transplant places a new donor kidney in the body. There are two kinds of kidney transplants: a living-donor transplant and a non-living-donor transplant. Unlike some other organs, a kidney can be donated by a live donor because we can survive with one working kidney. A living donor is usually a relative or close friend of the transplant recipient.

The Evaluation Process

A pre-transplant evaluation is necessary to determine the risks and benefits of transplantation for your child and to identify any potential problems that could increase the risk of complications during transplant.

Our evaluation process may include the following tests:

  • X-rays
  • Renal ultrasound
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)  
  • Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG)
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Blood tests
  • Urine and stool studies

While You Are Awaiting Transplant

If the transplant team determines that your child is a candidate for a kidney transplant and there is no suitable family donor, your child will be placed in the UNOS waiting list. Unfortunately, the waiting list is unpredictable, so we are unable to give you an accurate timeframe of how long your child will have to wait for a new kidney. It could be one day or one year. Here are a few things you should consider while waiting:

  • Stay as active as possible and live your life as you normally would
  • Have a way for your transplant coordinator to contact your family at all times
  • Take steps to avoid infection:
    • Avoid crowds during cold and flu season
    • Don’t share eating utensils or glasses with others
    • Avoid people who are sick
    • Carry antibacterial cleaning solutions with you
  • Have your child’s labs drawn as ordered and keep your appointments with your doctor. Not doing what the doctor asks can lead to your child’s removal from the transplant list..
  • Keep a suitcase packed with the items your family will need during your hospitalization so that you are ready at a moment’s notice
  • Contact your transplant coordinator if your child have fever, diarrhea, vomiting or runny nose. If your child has an infection you may need to be temporarily deactivated while the infection resolves.

Life After a Kidney Transplant

After you go home, your child will need to be seen by your physician and have blood work drawn regularly. These check-ups ensure that your child’s new kidney is still working correctly, that your child’s body is not rejecting the new kidney and that your child’s dose of immunosuppressant medication is correct. The follow up schedule usually includes the following visits:

  • Two times a week for the first month
  • 1-2 times a week for the second month
  • Once a month for 10 months

You may need to be seen more frequently if you have any problems, such as rejection or infection. Your transplant coordinator will help you schedule and plan for your follow-up care, so you know what to expect.

Life after a kidney transplant can be exciting, but it can also still be anxiety-ridden. The good news is, most kidney transplants are successful and most children who receive a transplant go on to live normal, healthy lives once they recover from surgery.

The SLUCare Physician Group surgeons at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital are experienced in all types of kidney transplant methods, so they can offer the best option to meet each child’s needs. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to us – day or night – and we will be by your side every step of the way. Call us today at (314) 577-5351 to schedule an appointment or request a second opinion.

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