Kidney & Pancreas Transplant Surgery Patient Guide
When you come to Cedars-Sinai for a kidney or pancreas transplant, you will benefit from our decades of experience. We have more tools than most centers for getting our patients into transplant surgery quickly. Our compassionate team of experts is here to help you—and your family—navigate the process smoothly.
Getting Started: Our Approach to Preparing for Transplant Surgery
To help as you prepare for transplant surgery, we provide:
A transplant is a complex procedure. We will make sure you know exactly what to expect.
Advanced Immunology Therapies
Our doctors have pioneered techniques that enable more patients to receive kidney transplants. We participate in clinical trials and research to improve kidney transplant outcomes for our patients.
Desensitization Therapy to Prepare for Transplant Surgery
Our program is known nationwide for its success in treating highly sensitized patients. We are also pioneering treatments that allow us to perform kidney transplants across blood types. If you are highly sensitized or are receiving a transplant across blood types, you will need desensitization therapy before your kidney transplant.
At least 30% of people waiting for a kidney transplant have immune systems that are highly sensitive to non-self human leukocyte antigens (HLAs). Without the right treatment before surgery, their bodies will reject a new kidney. Our kidney transplant specialists are experts at performing these complex surgeries. Find out more about how we perform highly sensitized transplants.
Preparation for a highly sensitized transplant may include:
- IVIG therapy: Our doctors were the first to use IVIG therapy to reduce HLA sensitivity in transplant patients. The treatment involves intravenous infusions of antibodies that help lower the level of HLA antibodies in your blood. You'll receive infusions several times a week, over a course of several weeks leading up to the transplant. We also pioneered a protocol that combines IVIG therapy with the drug Rituxan. Using this technique, we are able to successfully desensitize about 97% of our highly sensitized patients.
- IdeS therapy: Our researchers developed a new therapy that can desensitize patients for transplant much faster than other therapies. This treatment may require just one course of intravenous infusion before your body is ready for transplant surgery.
If you and your kidney donor have different blood types, our program has solutions.
We use innovative techniques to reduce the antibodies in your blood that would typically attack an organ of a different blood type. You'll receive these treatments in the weeks leading up to your transplant. We carefully monitor your antibody levels to pinpoint the best time for your surgery. Find out more about our ABO incompatible transplants.
Transplant Surgery: What to Expect
If you are receiving a transplant from a living donor, we will try to schedule your donor's surgery and yours on the same day. If your donated kidney is being flown in from another transplant center, we'll work with them to coordinate timing for the best outcome.
During and immediately after surgery, you can expect:
- Daily updates from your care team: The specialists on your care team—including nephrologists, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists and social workers—meet daily to discuss your progress. They will also take the time to update you and your family on your treatment plan.
- Immunosuppressive therapy: We start immunosuppressive therapy immediately after transplant to help prevent your body from rejecting your new kidney. Highly sensitized patients and those who had ABO incompatible transplants may need additional medications to prevent rejection.
- Tracking for infection or rejection: Our Immunology Laboratory has advanced methods for monitoring transplant patients. The goal is to detect any signs of infection or organ rejection at the earliest stage. Our ability to catch and treat infection or rejection early means better outcomes for our patients.
- Education before going home: Even when you are healthy enough to leave the hospital, you will need to continue tracking your own condition closely. We will educate you and your family on how to take your medications and watch for early signs of problems.
Recovery After Transplant Surgery
We understand that recovering from transplant surgery—even when it's successful—can be challenging. You may need to take immunosuppressant medications for the rest of your life. To help make the adjustment to life after a transplant easier, we provide essential resources and support.
Our supportive care services include:
These support specialists are just as crucial to your care as your medical team. They will meet with you and your family before, during and after transplant surgery. Our social workers can help you make necessary lifestyle changes, manage anxiety and coordinate your long-term care plan.
We encourage all our transplant patients to connect with others who've gone through the process. Finding and maintaining a support network is essential to the long-term success of your transplant. Find out more about current support group events.