Kidney Transplant

Kidney Transplant Surgery

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High Performing recognition from U.S. News & World Report for treatment of kidney failure

UT Southwestern Medical Center has earned a "High Performing" rating from U.S. News & World Report for treatment of kidney failure, placing us among the country’s top hospitals for this area of care.

Our transplant program has experienced significant growth over the past four years, making us the largest kidney transplant program in North Texas. While we have come a long way since our first transplant surgery more than five decades ago, each one is approached with the same philosophy: Deliver the best care possible, compassionately, to restore the patient to optimal health.

The video below follows a living-donor kidney transplant surgery. Dr. Dev Desai, Program Director for Transplant Surgery Fellowship, performs a laparoscopic donor nephrectomy. Simultaneously, Dr. Parsia Vagefi, Chief of Surgical Transplantation, prepares the recipient and transplants the kidney within minutes after removal.

Surgeries in Sync

Two simultaneous surgeries with one single goal: to give the kidney recipient a new lease on life. Follow two surgical teams as they perform a living-donor kidney transplant.

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The Surgical Team Featured in This Video

Our team’s specialized training and skills allow us to treat patients with even the most complicated cases of kidney disease, including those with other serious medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease. UT Southwestern accepts many patients who have been turned away by other centers.

Parsia Vagefi, M.D.

Dr. Vagefi is the Chief of the Division of Surgical Transplantation at UT Southwestern and an Associate Professor of Surgery. He holds an undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University. He earned his medical degree from Yale University, completed his residency in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, and performed his transplant fellowship at University of California, San Francisco. He leads the team responsible for the explosive growth at UT Southwestern’s liver and kidney transplant programs.

“Of the about 20,000 kidney transplants that we do in this country about a third of them are from living donors, but at the end of the day, there’s still another 90,000 people waiting on the list for a kidney transplant.”

Parsia Vagefi, M.D.

Chief of the Division of Surgical Transplantation

Kidney Transplant: What You Need to Know

The kidney transplant operation typically takes three hours. The surgical team will place the donor kidney through a small incision into the patient’s pelvis, and delicately connect the vein, artery, and ureter.

Typically, only one kidney is transplanted because only one kidney is needed to gain normal function. Surgeons usually do not need to remove the recipient's diseased kidney(s).

Most patients stay in the hospital three nights after the transplant surgery. The new kidney usually begins working during this time, although in some cases dialysis is necessary until the transplanted kidney is fully functioning. Patients can typically return to normal, active lives within six weeks of their kidney transplant.

Kidney transplant recipients must take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of their lives; maintain proper weight and blood pressure; eat a diet low in cholesterol and sugar; forego smoking and alcohol; and see their transplant team regularly.

For someone who needs a kidney transplant, asking a loved one or friend is a major request. Likewise, it’s a huge gift when a donor agrees. Living kidney donation can be a really beautiful, bonding experience. 

But not just anyone can donate a kidney. Stringent screening is required, and potential donors often have a lot of questions about their eligibility and how donation will affect their health in the future. Get more information on becoming a living donor.