Kidney Transplant

Freedom from dialysis and improved quality of life

If you have end-stage kidney disease, a kidney transplant is one of three treatment options available to you. It is a surgery that offers freedom from hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, as well as improves the length and quality of life. IU Health Transplant performs both living and deceased donor transplants, and offers the most experienced team in Indiana dedicated to helping you throughout the transplant journey. 

The IU Health Living Kidney Donation team offers individuals considering living donation the education to make an informed decision and support throughout the entire donation process.

Overview

If you have end-stage kidney disease, a kidney transplant is one of three treatment options available to you. It is a surgery that offers freedom from hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, as well as improves the length and quality of life. IU Health Transplant performs both living and deceased donor transplants, and offers the most experienced team in Indiana dedicated to helping you throughout the transplant journey. 

The IU Health Living Kidney Donation team offers individuals considering living donation the education to make an informed decision and support throughout the entire donation process.

Our Expertise

The IU Health Transplant team is committed to helping patients with end-stage renal disease through every stage of the transplant experience.  With more than 50 years of performing kidney transplants, we offer the most experience and the best three year outcomes of any program in the state.  

Our unparalleled experience comes from performing over 200 kidney transplants each year, with a total exceeding 5,500 kidney transplants since the program began. These totals include more than 2000 kidney transplants performed by our surgical director, making him one of the most experienced kidney transplant surgeons in the country. 

These numbers are important because each transplant represents a patient who we have been able to help. This level of experience also allows us to offer kidney transplants to more complex and high-risk recipients, including those who: 

  • are HIV positive
  • are Hepatitis C positive
  • require desensitization therapies
  • have been considered ineligible at other transplant centers

Outreach Clinics

IU Health offers kidney transplant outreach clinics in Merrillville, Mishawaka, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Vincennes and Evansville to provide convenient pre-transplant and post-transplant care for patients.  A few of these clinics use advanced video-conferencing technology to allow virtual visits with IU Health Transplant specialists. Thanks to these clinics, many patients are able to limit their trips to Indianapolis for specialized transplant care.

Collaborative Innovation and Improvement Network

As part of our ongoing effort to improve our quality of care, the kidney transplant program has been selected to participate in a program designed to improve communication among high-functioning kidney transplant programs.

The Collaborative Innovation and Improvement Network (COIIN) through the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) enables programs to share improvements in patient care that these programs have developed.  

Living Kidney Donation

Living kidney donors save lives and help improve another person’s quality of life for years to come.  While a potential donor frequently has a connection to the recipient – such as family or friend – a donor may not know the recipient at all. Non-directed donors come forward every year to donate because they feel called to help after learning about someone in need of a kidney transplant. 

Learn more about living kidney donation and the dedicated team that supports living donors throughout their journey.

To donate a kidney, the process begins by submitting a confidential online donor evaluation form or by calling an IU Health living donor nurse coordinator at 800.382.4602. All communication between the transplant center and a potential donor is confidential. 

For more information about the living kidney donation program, call 800.382.4602 or email transplantinfo@iuhealth.org.

Living Donor Champion Program

Our Living Donor Champion Program offers patients the tools to assist them in identifying a living kidney donor. For those who have identified someone willing to donate, but are blood-type incompatible, we have experience in paired donation within our own center and also work closely with nationally recognized paired donation programs. Paired donation provides the opportunity for you to find the best matched donor. 

A kidney from a living donor is the best option for patients because it will reduce or eliminate the need to start dialysis or spend years waiting for a deceased donor transplant. In addition, a kidney from a living donor will function better and last longer since the donor must be healthy and will be placed into the recipient within a very short time frame.  

Because of all these factors, patients receiving a kidney from a living donor have a better one year patient and kidney survival than patients receiving a kidney from a deceased donor – and this advantage continues long term.  

Paired Donation Program

We participate in paired donation programs (the ability to arrange "swaps" between living donors who cannot donate to their selected kidney recipients because of blood type or antibody incompatibilities), designed to increase the number of kidney transplants done in Indiana, and by so doing, improve patient survival.

As the first program in Indiana to have utilized paired donation, we continue to look for ways to increase and improve living kidney donor transplantation.

Advanced Donation Program

IU Health Transplant and the National Kidney Registry (NKR) have joined forces in offering a “pay it forward” kidney donor program.  

This Advanced Donation Program allows living donors to donate a kidney to another recipient within the NKR Advanced Donation Program at a time that works best for the donor. Donation can be done prior to the time when the designated kidney recipient may actually need the kidney.

When the selected recipient of that living donor needs a kidney transplant, the recipient receives priority through the NKR to receive a kidney donated by another living donor. This program removes many of the time constraints previously imposed upon the living donor. The donor can donate on their schedule and their recipient then receives a living donor kidney when they need it. This period between donation and the recipient’s kidney transplant surgery may be from weeks to potentially years.

What to Expect

Our Expertise

The IU Health Transplant team is committed to helping patients with end-stage renal disease through every stage of the transplant experience.  With more than 50 years of performing kidney transplants, we offer the most experience and the best three year outcomes of any program in the state.  

Our unparalleled experience comes from performing over 200 kidney transplants each year, with a total exceeding 5,500 kidney transplants since the program began. These totals include more than 2000 kidney transplants performed by our surgical director, making him one of the most experienced kidney transplant surgeons in the country. 

These numbers are important because each transplant represents a patient who we have been able to help. This level of experience also allows us to offer kidney transplants to more complex and high-risk recipients, including those who: 

  • are HIV positive
  • are Hepatitis C positive
  • require desensitization therapies
  • have been considered ineligible at other transplant centers

Outreach Clinics

IU Health offers kidney transplant outreach clinics in Merrillville, Mishawaka, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Vincennes and Evansville to provide convenient pre-transplant and post-transplant care for patients.  A few of these clinics use advanced video-conferencing technology to allow virtual visits with IU Health Transplant specialists. Thanks to these clinics, many patients are able to limit their trips to Indianapolis for specialized transplant care.

Collaborative Innovation and Improvement Network

As part of our ongoing effort to improve our quality of care, the kidney transplant program has been selected to participate in a program designed to improve communication among high-functioning kidney transplant programs.

The Collaborative Innovation and Improvement Network (COIIN) through the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) enables programs to share improvements in patient care that these programs have developed.  

Living Kidney Donation

Living kidney donors save lives and help improve another person’s quality of life for years to come.  While a potential donor frequently has a connection to the recipient – such as family or friend – a donor may not know the recipient at all. Non-directed donors come forward every year to donate because they feel called to help after learning about someone in need of a kidney transplant. 

Learn more about living kidney donation and the dedicated team that supports living donors throughout their journey.

To donate a kidney, the process begins by submitting a confidential online donor evaluation form or by calling an IU Health living donor nurse coordinator at 800.382.4602. All communication between the transplant center and a potential donor is confidential. 

For more information about the living kidney donation program, call 800.382.4602 or email transplantinfo@iuhealth.org.

Living Donor Champion Program

Our Living Donor Champion Program offers patients the tools to assist them in identifying a living kidney donor. For those who have identified someone willing to donate, but are blood-type incompatible, we have experience in paired donation within our own center and also work closely with nationally recognized paired donation programs. Paired donation provides the opportunity for you to find the best matched donor. 

A kidney from a living donor is the best option for patients because it will reduce or eliminate the need to start dialysis or spend years waiting for a deceased donor transplant. In addition, a kidney from a living donor will function better and last longer since the donor must be healthy and will be placed into the recipient within a very short time frame.  

Because of all these factors, patients receiving a kidney from a living donor have a better one year patient and kidney survival than patients receiving a kidney from a deceased donor – and this advantage continues long term.  

Paired Donation Program

We participate in paired donation programs (the ability to arrange "swaps" between living donors who cannot donate to their selected kidney recipients because of blood type or antibody incompatibilities), designed to increase the number of kidney transplants done in Indiana, and by so doing, improve patient survival.

As the first program in Indiana to have utilized paired donation, we continue to look for ways to increase and improve living kidney donor transplantation.

Advanced Donation Program

IU Health Transplant and the National Kidney Registry (NKR) have joined forces in offering a “pay it forward” kidney donor program.  

This Advanced Donation Program allows living donors to donate a kidney to another recipient within the NKR Advanced Donation Program at a time that works best for the donor. Donation can be done prior to the time when the designated kidney recipient may actually need the kidney.

When the selected recipient of that living donor needs a kidney transplant, the recipient receives priority through the NKR to receive a kidney donated by another living donor. This program removes many of the time constraints previously imposed upon the living donor. The donor can donate on their schedule and their recipient then receives a living donor kidney when they need it. This period between donation and the recipient’s kidney transplant surgery may be from weeks to potentially years.

When you are referred to the IU Health Kidney Transplant Program by your physician, dialysis center or as a self-referral, you will receive an initial packet of information in the mail about our program and invitation to call us to notify us if you are interested in proceeding with a kidney transplant evaluation. 

Once we have insurance approval to start your evaluation, we will send you additional information with required forms to be returned to begin the testing to determine if you are healthy enough for surgery.  You will also need to attend an education day with a support person. One of our 12 pre-transplant kidney coordinators will guide you through the entire process and be available to answer any questions you may have along the way. 

Once your testing is complete, the multidisciplinary team will carefully review all of the results to determine if you are able to be listed on the national United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) kidney waiting list. Your coordinator will notify you of the decision and discuss next steps.  

To receive a kidney transplant, you must first be listed on the UNOS kidney waiting list.  The list is kept nationally by UNOS. Once listed, your place on the list is different for each potential deceased donor kidney. 

It is determined by your match to the donor kidney being offered and how long you have been on dialysis or your wait time on the deceased donor list. The list is consistent within the Donor Service Area (DSA) for the transplant center where you are listed which, if listed at IU Health, is essentially all of Indiana. 

Multi-listing within the same DSA (Indiana) does not improve your chance for transplantation or change your place on the list.  However, patients often wish to be listed at transplant centers in surrounding DSA's such as Ohio and Illinois. 

If you would like to pursue multi-listing, our team works closely with other transplant programs to help our patients get listed in other DSA's if they choose to help increase chances for a match and potentially decrease waiting time for a kidney transplant. Our goal is to help you receive a kidney transplant and return to living your life to the fullest.  

Preparing For Your Transplant

When you are referred to the IU Health Kidney Transplant Program by your physician, dialysis center or as a self-referral, you will receive an initial packet of information in the mail about our program and invitation to call us to notify us if you are interested in proceeding with a kidney transplant evaluation. 

Once we have insurance approval to start your evaluation, we will send you additional information with required forms to be returned to begin the testing to determine if you are healthy enough for surgery.  You will also need to attend an education day with a support person. One of our 12 pre-transplant kidney coordinators will guide you through the entire process and be available to answer any questions you may have along the way. 

Once your testing is complete, the multidisciplinary team will carefully review all of the results to determine if you are able to be listed on the national United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) kidney waiting list. Your coordinator will notify you of the decision and discuss next steps.  

To receive a kidney transplant, you must first be listed on the UNOS kidney waiting list.  The list is kept nationally by UNOS. Once listed, your place on the list is different for each potential deceased donor kidney. 

It is determined by your match to the donor kidney being offered and how long you have been on dialysis or your wait time on the deceased donor list. The list is consistent within the Donor Service Area (DSA) for the transplant center where you are listed which, if listed at IU Health, is essentially all of Indiana. 

Multi-listing within the same DSA (Indiana) does not improve your chance for transplantation or change your place on the list.  However, patients often wish to be listed at transplant centers in surrounding DSA's such as Ohio and Illinois. 

If you would like to pursue multi-listing, our team works closely with other transplant programs to help our patients get listed in other DSA's if they choose to help increase chances for a match and potentially decrease waiting time for a kidney transplant. Our goal is to help you receive a kidney transplant and return to living your life to the fullest.  

Living Kidney Donation: What to Expect

After your kidney transplant your care will continue. Even with the best match, your body sees the new kidney as a foreign object, and your immune system will want to do what it does best, reject it. Preventing this is very important. 

You will be given medicines known as immunosuppressive or anti-rejection drugs. These drugs will limit your immune system’s ability to damage your new kidney. Like any drugs, these medicines also have side effects, and you may need medicines to help control those side effects and also manage other things such as high blood pressure or infection. 

Long-term Support

Your transplant team will continue to be available to you for ongoing management of your kidney transplant so that you can enjoy many active and fulfilling years to come.

After Your Transplant

After your kidney transplant your care will continue. Even with the best match, your body sees the new kidney as a foreign object, and your immune system will want to do what it does best, reject it. Preventing this is very important. 

You will be given medicines known as immunosuppressive or anti-rejection drugs. These drugs will limit your immune system’s ability to damage your new kidney. Like any drugs, these medicines also have side effects, and you may need medicines to help control those side effects and also manage other things such as high blood pressure or infection. 

Long-term Support

Your transplant team will continue to be available to you for ongoing management of your kidney transplant so that you can enjoy many active and fulfilling years to come.

You’ll probably have a lot of questions about your kidney transplant procedure. Some of the questions you might ask could include: 

  • How long will I have to wait for a transplant? 
  • How can my family and friends find out if they can donate? 
  • How is the procedure done? 
  • How long will my recovery be? 
  • Will I need to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of my life? 
  • What risks are there to a living donor? 
  • Will I be able to resume an active lifestyle after the transplant? Will there be any activities to avoid? 

Be sure to write down these or other questions you may have. We strongly recommend you bring along a partner or a good friend who can help you by listening and also taking notes. 

Questions to Ask Your Provider

You’ll probably have a lot of questions about your kidney transplant procedure. Some of the questions you might ask could include: 

  • How long will I have to wait for a transplant? 
  • How can my family and friends find out if they can donate? 
  • How is the procedure done? 
  • How long will my recovery be? 
  • Will I need to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of my life? 
  • What risks are there to a living donor? 
  • Will I be able to resume an active lifestyle after the transplant? Will there be any activities to avoid? 

Be sure to write down these or other questions you may have. We strongly recommend you bring along a partner or a good friend who can help you by listening and also taking notes. 

Patient Stories for Kidney Transplant