The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Comprehensive Transplant Center is home to one of the largest kidney transplant programs in the country.

Learn more about how Ohio State is leading the way in organ transplantation!

Why choose Ohio State for kidney transplant?

Expertise: We perform more than 200 kidney transplants a year, making us one of the top 10 percent busiest programs in the country. Since our first kidney transplant in 1967, we have performed more than 6,900 kidney transplant surgeries. In September 2011, we completed a six-way, single-institution transplant, the first and largest to date in Ohio, and one of only a handful in the United States. 

Experience: Our Comprehensive Transplant Center has one of the largest organ transplant programs in the nation. We perform more than 475 kidney, liver, pancreas, combined kidney-pancreas, heart and lung transplants each year. Since our program started in 1967, we have performed more than 10.000 lifesaving transplants.

Kidney transplant research: We participate in clinical trials of new immunosuppressive drugs and antirejection therapies.

Kidney Transplant Candidates

Kidney Transplant Candidates

Solid organ kidney transplant involves surgically implanting a new kidney that has been donated by a deceased or a living donor. Typically, your kidneys are left in place. Kidney transplantation may be a treatment option for patients whose kidneys have permanently failed due to chronic end-stage renal disease caused by:
  • Autoimmune disease: Your body's immune system protects you from disease and infection. But if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. Autoimmune diseases can affect many parts of the body.
  • Congenital abnormalities: A birth defect is a problem that happens while a baby is developing in the mother's body. Most birth defects happen during the first three months of pregnancy. One out of every 33 babies in the United States is born with a birth defect.

    A birth defect may affect how the body looks, works or both. Some birth defects like cleft lip or neural tube defects are structural problems that can be easy to see. To find others, like heart defects, doctors use special tests. Birth defects can vary from mild to severe. 
Your overall health, not your age, is the most important factor in determining if you are a suitable organ recipient. Screenings before transplant ensure that you are in good medical and psychological health and that you have the motivation and support to comply with treatment plans. People who generally are not candidates include those with metastatic cancer, active drug or alcohol abuse, active infection or severe medical problems.

Patient Process

Kidney Transplant Process

Kidney Transplant Process

A goal of our Comprehensive Transplant Center is to ensure our transplant patients experience a thorough continuity of services through the entire transplant process, including pre-transplant evaluation, communication throughout the waiting process, acute medical care during and following surgery, intensive outpatient treatment, post-transplant outpatient visits and ongoing telephone follow-up.

Referral Phase

You may be referred to our program for evaluation by your nephrologist, your dialysis nurse or your family physician. You may also refer yourself. Contact our Kidney Transplant Program at 614-293-6724 to arrange for you and your family to attend an introductory information session in our outpatient clinic and meet with a member of our transplant team.

Here are some of the steps in the pre-transplant referral process:
  1. The referring party is responsible for providing the coordinator with all applicable medical information according to the transplant referral protocol provided at time of referral
  2. You will need to notify your insurance company before making your initial evaluation appointment. Our pre-transplant office and hospital business office will work with you to determine insurance availability and precertification requirements
  3. Pre-transplant coordinators and business office staff then work together to meet insurance company requirements for evaluation and transplant procedure approval

Clinic Evaluation Phase

You will be scheduled for two outpatient clinic evaluation visits. One involves a comprehensive education program that details the surgical procedure, medications, recovery and rehabilitation associated with the transplant process. Your family and support members are strongly encouraged to attend.

The second is a day of all the pre-transplant initial testing, lab work and clinical testing, transplant doctor interview and social work consultation.

It is preferred that these tests be completed at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, but depending on your geographic location or payer preference, they may be completed closer to your home.

Every patient being evaluated for kidney transplant will also have a psychosocial assessment with a social worker. This evaluation will help determine if you have the psychological stability, motivation and personal support to meet the challenges of transplantation.

The transplant team evaluates the information gathered and determines whether transplantation is appropriate. We will also determine what additional information is needed prior to placing you on the transplant list.

A letter is also sent to your insurance company, with a copy of the pre-transplant patient chart, requesting precertification of the transplant procedure. We will send follow-up letters to the referring physician or dialysis center, summarizing the pre-transplant clinic visit and asking for any additional information required.

Candidacy Phase

If it is determined that you are an appropriate candidate for kidney transplant and your insurance company approves your surgery, you will be listed for the transplant with United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). A letter will be sent to you detailing your responsibilities while waiting for your transplant.

Active Wait List Phase

Approximately 2,600 people in Ohio are waiting for a kidney transplant. Kidney donation can come via a deceased or a living donor; the wait time for patients who have a living donor are greatly reduced from years to months and transplant recipients have better outcomes when the donor is living. We encourage all patients waiting for a kidney transplant to seek a living donor. Living donors do not have to be blood relatives of yours and can be a spouse or a friend. Visit our Living Kidney Donation section for more information.

You may also receive a donated kidney from a deceased donor who has previously registered to become an organ donor or the family wishes to donate. Please be prepared to wait as long as three to five years for a kidney from a deceased donor. In addition, the donor must have a blood type compatible with yours. Each potential donor also must be screened very carefully for disease, infection or trauma to ensure that you receive a healthy kidney.

Transplant Phase

You must be reachable by phone at all times. When a kidney becomes available for you, you will be notified by the pre-transplant coordinator and admitted to our transplant unit.

You will have multiple lab tests done to ensure you are ready for transplant. You will be given a number of medications, including antibiotics, antifungals and immunosuppression medications.

Ideally, surgery is performed as soon as the organ is available. However, using the latest perfusion techniques, we are able to transplant kidneys within 48 hours of recovery. The surgery will generally last at least four to six hours.

Following your admission, your referring physician and insurance company are notified of your transplant.

Post-Transplant Phase

After your surgery, you will be admitted to the transplant unit for recovery. Your hospital stay is typically five to seven days.

You will be seen daily by the transplant surgeons, midlevel providers and discharge coordinators. You’ll receive individualized education from floor nurses and attend education classes on medication and general discharge instructions. The discharge coordinators manage your care process, communicate with insurance case managers and plan for discharge. A social worker will visit you to address any psychosocial issues associated with the transplant.

Once discharged from the hospital, you will have:

  • Lab Tests: You will visit a lab for testing two times a week for the first first three months post-transplant. Your lab results are evaluated by a transplant coordinator and a transplant surgeon.

  • Outpatient Clinic Visits: you will be seen in our outpatient clinic weekly for the first month, then again at 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 12 weeks, 4 months, 6 months, and one year post-transplant (and at any other time in between if warranted). You will be seen annually thereafter, unless more frequent visits are required. After you are released by your surgeon, you will be seen by the Transplant Medicine Service. Lab frequency is reduced as you progress.

We will communicate with your referring physician at the beginning and end of each hospitalization, as well as with each outpatient clinic visit.

Because of the many interactions of other medications with immunosuppressives, please check with the post-transplant office prior to filling any prescription.

Once your kidney function stabilizes, you may be eligible to transition back to a nephrologist closer to home. This transition is dependent on your kidney function and overall health at that time. Please discuss this option with your post-transplant coordinator.

Financial Assistance

Private medical insurance and Medicare’s End-Stage Renal Disease Program share in covering the cost of kidney transplantation. The Veterans Administration or Medicaid may also be a source of financial aid for those patients who are eligible.

Treatment Team

Kidney Transplant Team

Kidney Transplant Team

Our Comprehensive Transplant Center treatment team includes:

Transplant Nephrologist

This doctor specializes in kidney transplants and will follow you before, during and after your transplant. He will complete a physical exam and discuss what additional testing is needed to prepare you for your transplant. 

Transplant Surgeon

This doctor will perform your kidney transplant surgery. He or she will discuss the risks and benefits related to surgery and assist you in understanding what to expect after receiving your transplant.

Infectious Disease Physician

These doctors, who specialize in infectious diseases, will follow you before and after your transplant (if needed) to reduce risk of infection.

Advanced Practice Provider

The advanced practice providers include physician assistants and nurse practitioners who work closely with your physician to ensure continuity of care throughout your stay at the hospital and your transition to outpatient care. He or she orders and monitors diagnostic tests and treatments, responds to urgent needs, diagnoses and treats problems if they arise and provides the educational tools and resources necessary to continue success with your transplant once you are discharged.

Transplant Coordinator

These are nurses who will be your primary contact from the time you are referred for a transplant evaluation throughout your care here. They will help answer any questions you may have and assist you throughout your transplant experience.

Social Worker and Psychologist

These professionals meet with you to evaluate your psychological readiness for transplantation.

Transplant Pharmacist

A transplant pharmacist works specifically with patients who have received a transplanted organ. This pharmacist has been trained to understand details about anti-rejection medications, works closely with your transplant physician to help manage your medications and helps answer medication questions you may have.

Pharmacy Patient Assistance Coordinator

The pharmacy patient assistance coordinator offers assessment, linkage and referrals for assistance to patients who need certain medications and have high co-pays or no prescription drug coverage.

Contact: 800-626-2538

Frequently Asked Questions

Kidney Transplant Frequently Asked Questions

Kidney Transplant Frequently Asked Questions

Which health insurance are accepted?

The list of accepted insurances for kidney transplant can often change. Please contact your healthcare insurance provider to confirm your coverage for transplant at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Transplant Center.

What is tissue typing?

Ohio State's Tissue Typing Laboratory ensures that an organ is compatible with its recipient. The process involves matching a person's unique configuration of six human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules with a potential pool of approximately 100 different varieties.

Cross-match testing helps prevent some types of organ rejection. The testing involves mixing cells from the donor's and recipient's serum to determine whether rejection-promoting antibodies will occur. This information helps your physicians plan for the right medication strategy to best control organ rejection.

Transplant support testing includes monitoring new drugs that patients use, testing to determine a patient's overall ability to maintain a recipient's organ and developing new tests to support many of the clinical aspects of transplantation.

Are there any support groups to join?

Organ transplant affects a person’s body, spirit and life in numerous ways. Adjusting to these changes can often be easier with the assistance of others with similar experiences.

Open to all Ohio State’s abdominal transplant recipients AND waitlisted kidney, pancreas and liver patients, Ohio State’s Transplant Support Group offers an emotionally supportive community before and after the transplant journey and is one of many additional, optional resources offered to benefit our transplant patients. 

  • Date: Meetings will be held on the last Thursday of each month
  • Time: 4 – 5 p.m.
  • Location: Lifeline of Ohio – conference room, 770 Kinnear Road, Columbus, OH 43212 (free parking)

For any questions or concerns, please call the transplant social work office at 614-293-6724.

How to Ask for a Living Kidney Donation

How to ask for a living kidney donation

How to ask for a living kidney donation

If you need a kidney transplant, your best option is to receive a kidney from a living donor; but easier said than done! 

The truth is there is an enormous physical and emotional toll of living with end-stage kidney disease, not to mention the exhaustion of dialysis treatment. So it is not a surprise that finding a living donor can be overwhelming. In fact, the conversation is so difficult more than half of all people in need of a kidney transplant do not even ask one person to donate

Though you may not want to ask, often friends and family members are eager to spread the word for you and help identify potential living donors. 

Read more

Patient Success Stories

Kidney Recipient 30+ Years After Transplantation

After more than 30 years of living with a kidney transplant, Rick has come away with a very important life lesson: don’t take anything for granted.

Nicaraguan Travels to OSU for Kidney Transplant

With the assistance of OSU's Destination Medicine and Concierge Program, Tito (age 47) was able to travel from Nicaragua to Ohio State's Comprehensive Transplant Center for a living kidney donor transplant from his brother.

Kidney Transplant Recipient Has Baby After 10 Year Wait

After a decade battle with kidney disease, Bethany is finally able to start her family, thanks to a living kidney donation transplanted at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center.

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