Pediatric Kidney Transplant
When your child's kidneys can no longer meet their body's needs, our transplant program is here to help. We work to select the best replacement kidney for your child, to help move past kidney disease and the need for dialysis. We then work to protect the new organ and your child's health.
Throughout the transplant process, we provide the support your whole family needs. We try to make the experience as positive as possible and set your child up for success with this life-changing surgery.
We offer two kidney transplant options: living-donor transplant or deceased-donor transplant.
Living-donor kidney transplant
With this procedure, your child receives a kidney from a healthy adult. We evaluate potential donors to determine if they're a match based on blood and tissue type, immune system, and overall health. If a living donor is identified, we can move forward with the process. We can schedule surgery at a time that works for the donor and your family.
If a living donor isn't available, your child can receive a kidney from a deceased donor. The donor's kidney can continue to function normally after transplant and grow with your child. For this option, your child joins a national waiting list. The kidney transplant takes place once a suitable organ is available.
We have a rigorous evaluation process to ensure a kidney transplant is the right fit for your child. While your family waits for the new kidney, we work to keep your child healthy and ready for transplant.
As a first step, we carefully identify the features needed to make a transplanted kidney a good match. Special tests of your child's blood reduce the likelihood of organ rejection and help identify potential donors.
Our team works to explain every stage of your child's kidney transplant care. We're here to guide you and answer your questions.
Pediatric kidney transplant evaluation
Once the need for a new kidney becomes clear, you and your child meet with our team. During these initial appointments, we:
- Do a complete physical exam and medical evaluation
- Identify any additional medical therapy your child needs before transplant
- Discuss transplant options
- Evaluate potential living donors if available
- Place your child on the national kidney waiting list if needed
Pediatric kidney transplant surgery
For living donor transplants, we partner with our colleagues at Texas Health Harris Methodist. They perform the living donor operation at their facility, located across the street.
Our urologists then perform the transplant surgery for your child at Cook Children's. Our team also does all transplant operations for children who receive a deceased donor kidney.
Throughout surgery to place the new kidney, we keep you updated on your child's progress. After surgery, your child goes to a recovery area. You can see your child when they're awake and taken to a hospital room.
Pediatric post-kidney transplant care
Before leaving the medical center, our pharmacist will review your child's medications with you.
Once your child leaves the hospital, you'll have frequent follow-up appointments to monitor your child's kidney function. We carefully watch for infection to safeguard your child and the new kidney. If you live outside Fort Worth, you'll be able to return home a few weeks after surgery.
Your nurse coordinator will schedule follow-up visits and lab tests to monitor your child's progress. You can receive follow-up care at one of our many locations or through telehealth visits.
For more than 25 years, our team has restored healthy kidney function, developing one of the largest kidney transplant programs in Texas. Families travel to see us from across the state, as well as from neighboring states. When you come to Cook Children's, you'll find:
Team of experts
Providing kidney transplants to children requires a range of specialists, given their special needs and the causes of pediatric kidney failure. Our team includes:
Team members from pediatric nephrology have specialized training managing medical therapy before and after transplant. They also coordinate dialysis care for children awaiting a kidney, helping to filter waste and fluid from the blood. Other partners include specialists in rheumatology, who step in when autoimmune disorders affect the kidneys. And experts in interventional radiology monitor kidney function before and after transplant.
Our team offers expertise in both transplant surgery and urologic surgery. Unlike adults, younger children needing transplants are often born with congenital conditions affecting their urinary tracts. Our urologists perform any reconstructive surgery needed before transplant.
Our transplant program continually meets or exceeds national marks in several areas. Most children who need a deceased-donor kidney receive one within a year — a wait significantly shorter than expected for our region. We also surpass national standards for kidney survival. Most of the children we help have a healthy kidney a year or more after transplant.
While transplants take place in Fort Worth, your child can receive pre- and post-transplant care at locations throughout the Metroplex. We also offer telehealth visits. These options allow your child to receive much of their care closer to home. You can contact us any time by phone or through the MyCookChildren's portal.
Special help for teens
As teens with a transplanted kidney approach adulthood, we help transition their care. We help locate a nephrology program near home, and assist with setting up the first appointment. In most cases, our transplant coordinators even come along for the first appointment, ensuring a seamless transition.
We're here to reduce any burden that kidney disease and kidney transplant may place on your child and family. Our team includes specialized caregivers to provide support through every stage of care.
Child Life specialists
Our Child Life specialists talk with your child about what to expect before, during and after kidney transplant. They use creative ways, such as models or diagrams, to explain care in terms your child can understand. They can also offer distractions, such as games or toys, during your visit.
We understand that the transplant process is new for you and your child. And we know visits to the doctor's office can cause anxiety. Our clinical therapists are here to help. They provide mental health support for your family throughout treatment.
Prior to a kidney transplant, your child may need to follow a special diet. Our dietitians can help create a meal plan that fits your child's needs. And they can recommend vitamin and nutrition supplements to support your child's healthy growth. For the smallest children, we help them reach 10 kilograms (22 pounds) — generally the minimum weight to undergo transplant.
After having a kidney transplant, your child will begin taking special medications. These immunosuppressants help ensure your child's body accepts the new kidney. Our pharmacists will explain your child's medication schedule and help make any dose adjustments needed along the way.
Our social workers provide helpful resources while your child is part of our program. They can also talk with your child's siblings or other family members to explain what to expect. And they help find accommodations if you're traveling to Fort Worth for care.
Our transplant coordinators are experienced nurses who serve as your main contact throughout the transplant process. They help coordinate care before, during and after kidney transplant. They're always available to answer your questions or concerns.
We're here to help
If you have questions or you'd like to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our team, call our offices at 682-885-4560.