UK HealthCast: Discussing pediatric kidney transplants with Dr. Meera Gupta
UK HealthCast is a podcast series featuring interviews with UK HealthCare experts on a variety of health-related topics.
For this episode, we spoke to Dr. Meera Gupta, surgical director of our pediatric kidney program, about organ transplants in children. Here’s a preview of the conversation.
Who are candidates for a pediatric transplant?
We at UK specialize in pediatric kidney transplantation. Candidates for pediatric transplant include those children who suffer from end-stage renal disease, either through birth defects or hereditary diseases involving their kidneys, infections, nephrotic syndrome, other systemic diseases, such as lupus, Alports or HUS, and trauma, as well as urine blockage or reflux.
What is the approval process for a pediatric kidney transplant?
The child will undergo a comprehensive evaluation with our pediatric kidney transplant team. It typically involves meeting with our multidisciplinary team that includes the surgeons, the nephrologists, the nurse coordinators and social workers and financial counselors, as well as other members of our team. It will also include some blood work and other medical tests to determine the child's eligibility for transplant and feasibility of the operation. After that, the committee will meet and review all of the testing and imaging for the child, as well as the consultations provided by each member of the team to determine if kidney transplant is a good option for the child.
Moving forward, once the child gets listed, there are options for transplantation, either through living donation or deceased donation. And that will be determined based on the preferences of the child and their family as well as their providers (and) the primary nephrologist. After that, then the patient is worked up and listed and will either undergo a deceased donor kidney transplant or a living donor kidney transplant which is typically scheduled.
How long does a child typically wait on a donation list?
That time period varies a little bit depending on how well the child is. Many children who are listed for transplant are listed quite early, so they can accrue waiting time. And when the nephrologist feels that the child is ready for transplant on the deceased donor list, we’ll go ahead and activate them. And then, they do receive pediatric priority on the list, meaning that they are listed above all adults.
Overall, their waiting time is actually quite short. It's usually within a few months to a year, depending on how sensitized they are and how eligible they are. If there is a living donor, either through a family member or a friend or someone that they know, they can have the living donor worked up and schedule the surgery within weeks to months of getting listed. If they go through a National Kidney Registry where they find a suitable living donor pair to start a chain, it can take a little bit longer, but it's usually within a few months as well.
Why is UK HealthCare the place for a pediatric transplant?
Our UK Pediatric Transplant Team is committed to innovative care and a strongly integrated support network for every child and their family. It's important to know that transplantation is not a cure. It's a treatment option for kidney failure, and it does require a lifelong commitment to taking the medications and receiving consistent medical treatment. The goals of our center are to give these children the best treatment for end-stage kidney failure, establish normal kidney function and allow for improved quality of life long-term. So, these patients become our family and we remain committed to them. We want them to succeed. We want to ensure that they go back to what they consider normal life, so that they can grow normally and enjoy all aspects of life with their family. And that's why I really feel strongly that we're the best option for kids in Kentucky.
For more information, visit the homepage of our kidney and pancreas transplant programs by clicking here.