Conditions + Treatments

Kidney Transplantation

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Contact the Kidney Transplant Program

Kidney transplantation is a little bit different from other organ transplants because we have two options--transplant and dialysis--and both are good treatments for children with chronic kidney disease. We work closely with the dialysis program to find the best way to treat each child. 

--William E. Harmon, MD, medical director, Kidney Transplant Program

If your child has severe end-stage kidney disease (ESRD) that no longer responds to treatment, a kidney transplant is likely to be the best option to give her a longer and healthier life. The kidney transplant operation is done to replace diseased kidneys with a healthy one from another person.

  • The kidney may come from an organ donor who has died or from a suitable living person, either related or not related.
  • The national average for waiting time on the deceased donor kidney organ list is about six to 12 months for children. At Children’s Hospital Boston, it’s even better—we’re part of the New England Region of UNOS, where children currently wait about three months for an organ.
  • On average, a transplanted kidney should function for about 10 years (from a deceased donor) to 20 years (from a living donor).

It’s important to remember that a transplant is more than just an operation – it also includes:

  1. doing everything we can to make sure your child’s health is as robust as possible before surgery. In many cases, a short course of dialysis is the best way to do this. It’s also important to make sure that the family is ready for a transplant.
  2. life-long medications your child will need to take to prevent her immune system from rejecting the new kidney

How Boston Children’s approaches a kidney transplant

We’re the only kidney transplant program in New England dedicated to caring for young children and teens. Children are our priority; that’s why we played an instrumental role in changing the way pediatric patients were listed on the organ waiting list. Thanks to our intervention, patients 18 years old and younger now receive priority listing on the kidney transplant list. We also offer the only specialized pediatric dialysis unit in New England.

Our compassionate caregivers know that your child is a person, not just a patient, and we provide support services for your child and your family throughout all stages of treatment, including:

  • Back to School Visits, which help patients readjust to life in the classroom
  • referrals to mental health professionals and support groups
  • special transition to adult transplant programs for older patients

Transplanting adult kidneys into infants and children

Here at Boston Children’s, we’ve developed techniques that allow us to transplant kidneys from adults into infants and children. Our surgeons have successfully transplanted an adult kidney into a one-year-old baby weighing about 14 pounds.

Boston Children's ranked first in treating kidney disorders

U.S. News and World Report's "Best Children's Hospitals."

Kidney transplant: Reviewed by William Harmon, MD © Boston Children's Hospital, 2010

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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