Pediatric Kidney Transplantation
At Mount Sinai, our Pediatric Renal Transplant Program is one of the busiest pediatric transplant programs in the nation. There are multiple reasons why your child might require kidney transplantation. Some of the key indications for why a child might need to undergo a kidney transplant:
- Renal dysplasia
- Posterior urethral valve
- Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis
You will receive a call as soon as a donor kidney is found and after that, and your child will be told to go to the hospital for the transplant surgery.
At the hospital, our medical staff will take a small blood sample for something called an antibody cross-match test. This test will be able to determine if your child’s immune system is the best match possible for a new kidney that is available. If the test results come back as negative, the kidney is acceptable and the transplant can begin!
In the operating room, your child will be given general anesthesia to sleep through the procedure which ensures that during surgery, your child will not feel a thing. For children who are between 22 to 42 lbs., the kidney is placed in the abdomen and attached to the main blood vessels in the body (aorta and inferior vena cava). Please note, typically for children under 22 lbs., we suggest dialysis instead of undergoing a kidney transplant. The medical staff will make certain that your child is healthy enough to undergo the procedure.
Once in surgery, the surgeon hen make a small incision (or cut) in the lower part of your child's abdomen, located just above the hip bones. The surgeon will then take the new kidney and place it in the abdomen where its blood vessels will be attached to other blood vessels that are found in the lower body. The ureter tubes (which is where urine flows through) of the new kidney will then be connected to the bladder.
Kidney transplant surgery usually is completed in three to four hours, and the new kidney will usually begin working immediately, although it could take a few weeks for your child’s body to full adjust to the new organ.
It’s typical that after kidney transplant surgery, your child will remain in the hospital between three and seven days. During your child’s stay in the hospital, our caring medical staff will carefully look after your child and make certain that no complications from the surgery arise.
Because the human body’s immune system is designed to reject a foreign object that may enter the body, your child’s immune system will see the new kidney as a foreign object. To prevent transplantation rejection from happening, your child will need to take medicines called immunosuppresants for an extended period of time.
Thanks to these immunosuppressants (and new surgical techniques), the success rate for kidney transplantations is exceptionally high. It is typical that your child will easily be able to go back to doing all of the same things that other kids without transplants can do. We must remind you, though, please make certain that your child avoids rough play so as not to damage the kidney and to slowly go back into resuming physical activities. If you are uncertain about whether an activity is safe for your child to perform, immediately contact your child’s physician and he or she will inform you if it is okay.
Most patients experience a better quality of life following a kidney transplant. Keep in mind, however, that your child will need to take medications for an indefinite period of time to stay healthy. We will periodically have checkups to ensure that your child’s new kidney is functioning properly and that your child’s overall health has improved.