Kidney Transplants & Living Donations

Many aspects of life are affected by a transplant, including housing, relationships, income and employment. The Transplant Center is committed to supporting patients and their families as they move through all phases of the kidney transplant process. 

What is a kidney transplant?

A kidney transplant is when someone suffering from kidney failure receives a new kidney from a healthy person, living or deceased. Living donors are possible with a kidney donation because a person only needs one healthy kidney to live. 

  • A living donor may be a family member, a friend, a coworker, or any person who is willing to give a kidney to someone in need.
  • Transplants from living donors have a better chance of success than those from deceased donors.
  • Living donors and transplant patients can work together to schedule a transplant for a time that's good for everyone. Transplant patients who are using deceased donors have to wait until a kidney becomes available.
  • Become a Living Donor

How does a kidney transplant compare to dialysis treatment?

A kidney transplant is one treatment option for patients with kidney failure. A kidney transplant is intended to improve the quality of life for patients who have been diagnosed with end stage renal disease. After a kidney transplant, many patients are able to lead a more normal life - returning to work, increasing physical activity and becoming "free" of the restrictions of renal disease (time, diet and fluid). Additionally, research has shown that those patients who receive a kidney transplant have a longer life expectancy than those who remain on dialysis.

How successful are kidney transplants?

A kidney transplant from a living donor has a success rate of approximately 95% and is likely to function for 12-20 years. A kidney transplant from a deceased donor has a success rate of approximately 85-90 percent and is likely to last 8-12 years.

Transplant Waiting List

There are several things you can do after becoming listed on the Transplant Center's waiting list. First of all, stay healthy. Next, notify your transplant coordinator if you are sick or hospitalized, if you have a change of phone number or address and if you are leaving town. It's also important to notify the transplant team if you have a change in insurance. When there is a potential kidney transplant available, you will receive a call from the transplant coordinator. The coordinator will inform you of your next steps. It is important to ensure your phone number is up to date with the transplant team.

Living Kidney Donation

Living kidney donation is when a living person gives one of their healthy kidneys to a person whose kidneys no longer function properly. A living donor can be a biological relative (parent, sibling, or child), unrelated (spouse or friend), or humanitarian (someone who donates their kidney to an unknown recipient on the national waiting list). According to the National Kidney Foundation, if someone is considering donating a kidney, he or she "must be in good health and have normal kidney function and anatomy." If the potential living donor meets the preliminary donation criteria, he or she will need to undergo further testing to ensure kidney compatibility.

Becoming a living kidney donor is not an easy process. There are several tests and steps that are done to determine if you can become a living donor. If you are considering becoming a living kidney donor, please read through this information as you make your decision.

Advantage to Living Donation

  • The surgery is planned for a time that works best for the donor.
  • There is minimal down time during a living donor surgery. The kidney leaves the donor OR room and enters next door where the recipient is prepped and ready for transplant, allowing the kidney to work right away.
  • On average, a transplanted kidney from a living donor will last longer than a transplanted kidney from a deceased donor.
  • A transplanted kidney from a living donor functions right away, allowing the recipient to feel better quicker, avoid dialysis and allow for an easier recovery.

Financial and Insurance Information

Many insurance companies do cover organ transplantation. Each kidney transplant candidate needs to work closely with our staff and their insurance company to determine health insurance benefits. Our financial counselor meets with each patient and family to help resolve these complicated financial and insurance issues.

DesMoines Iowa Methodist Medical Center

UnityPoint Health - Iowa Methodist Transplant Center

For over 30 years, UnityPoint Health's dedicated transplant center, Iowa Methodist Transplant Center, has performed state-of-the-art adult kidney transplants. Our team of compassionate experts has performed over 1,000 kidney transplants.
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