• Kidney transplant program

    The kidney transplant program at UK Transplant Center provides kidney transplants for adults and children with end-stage kidney disease, also known as renal failure. 

    The UK Kidney Transplant program has been a leader in advanced kidney failure since 1964 when we completed our first live-donor kidney transplant. We’ve been saving lives ever since: more than 2,500 kidney transplants have taken place at UK Transplant Center since our program was founded.

    In addition to traditional, deceased donor organ transplants, we offer a living kidney donor program, which provides patients with end-stage kidney disease a new avenue to finding a matched kidney donor. As part of our living kidney donor program, we participate with the Paired Kidney Exchange Program through UNOS and the National Kidney registry (NKR), the nonprofit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant system. In 2015, UK Transplant Center recently performed the largest kidney donor chain in the state’s history.



  • Am I a candidate for kidney transplant?

    Most patients with irreversible kidney failure are potential candidates for kidney transplant. Overall health and well-being are important. For example, you must have stable heart and lung function in order to safely withstand the surgical procedure. Your medical history, including previous transplants, smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, and ability to follow medical advice will also affect your possibility for transplant. All of these issues are considered for each patient separately, to ensure that the best decision is made for that individual.

    Since transplant requires a lifelong commitment to taking medication and to having regular physician contact, patients also must understand and be willing to accept this responsibility. There is no absolute age or obesity cut-off. Each patient is evaluated individually by several members of the transplant team and their case discussed in a committee to determine their eligibility. Read more »

    Do I need to bring a donor?

    It is not necessary to have a living donor. Almost 2/3 of kidney transplants in the nation are with deceased donors. There are, however, huge advantages to live donor transplantation including much shorter waiting time and improved outcomes.

    If you must have a deceased donor, you can be listed for both a Standard Criteria Donor, and an Expanded Criteria Donor. The Standard Criteria Donors (SCD) are a broad group of donors that are generally good kidneys. Unfortunately, nationally, there are only less than 10,000 of these transplants done every year.

    Last year there were almost 90,000 patients on the kidney transplant waiting list. The ECD donor kidneys allow for a few more transplants every year, but are not appropriate for all patients because they come from older donors. The pay-off for the ECD list, however, is a shorter waiting time. As mentioned above, Kentucky has some of the shortest wait times in the nation.

  • Living kidney donation benefits

    Kidney transplants can come from two sources: a living donor or a deceased donor. Living donor transplants offer recipients better long-term survival rates compared to kidneys donated from a cadaver and allow patients faster receipt of a new kidney without the average two to five year wait. Today medical providers are even able to transplant kidneys from unrelated living donors (like a spouse or friend) with success similar to kidneys donated from a blood relative. New medications make it possible to donate without a family link to the recipient but the donor and recipient must have compatible blood types.

    Anyone who is generally healthy and has normal kidney function can donate. Donors will live healthy lives with just one kidney because the remaining organ enlarges to compensate for the donated organ. Living donor kidneys have a lower rejection rate than cadaver kidneys and start to function more quickly as well.

    Learn more about becoming a living kidney donor »