Medical Services

Understanding your kidney transplant

Most people have two kidneys that are located in their back just below the rib cage. Your kidneys serve several important functions, including:

  • Removing waste and excess fluid from blood
  • Controlling the body’s chemical balance
  • Assisting in the manufacture of healthy red blood cells
  • Regulating blood pressure

Injury or conditions including kidney failure, polycystic kidney disease, infections, hypertension or glomerulonephritis can cause damage to the kidneys and limit their ability to function. If this happens, you may need to have your blood regularly cleaned through a process called dialysis, or you may be eligible for a kidney transplant.

During a kidney transplant, a donor kidney is surgically placed in the lower abdomen near the major veins and arteries in the pelvis. The new kidney begins to clean the blood immediately. The damaged kidneys are often left in place unless they are badly infected or enlarged from polycystic kidney disease.

Freedom from dialysis

At Scripps, our goal is to help people eliminate the need for dialysis with a successful kidney transplant — even for people who have a complex diagnosis, advanced age or other factors.

Our kidney transplant program helps patients spend less time on the transplant waiting list through numerous protocols not available at every transplant facility. These include:

  • Extended criteria donor kidney transplants
  • Older patients who choose to receive kidneys from donors close to their own age may experience a shorter waiting period.
  • ABO-incompatible kidney transplants
  • Special protocols make it possible to transplant across blood types.
  • Steroid-free immunosuppression
  • We offer specific protocols for patients who cannot tolerate traditional steroid-based drugs for immunosuppression.
  • Cross-match positive kidney transplants
  • Our program uses techniques which can, in many cases, remove the antibodies that would cause a transplanted organ to be rejected.
  • Kidney transplants for patients with HIV disease
  • Our team can help patients with stable HIV infection manage the complex drug interactions between transplant and HIV medications.
  • Living kidney donation
  • A living donor kidney transplant occurs when kidney is donated from a healthy, living donor to a waiting recipient.
  • Kidney donor exchanges
  • Potential donors who are unable to donate to their own loved ones may donate to each other’s loved ones in what is essentially a “swap,” or exchange.