The University of Utah Kidney Transplant Program has been caring for patients with end-stage renal disease since 1965. In 1977, the program became a Medicare-approved center. Since that time we have continued to do a high number of adult and pediatric kidney transplants with survival rates higher than the national average.

Our kidney transplant program takes a multidisciplinary approach, providing patients access to a team of health care professionals who are experienced in all medical and surgical aspects of transplantation, including board-certified adult and pediatric transplant nephrologists.

Contact Us

Phone: (801) 585-5642
Toll-free: (800) 824-2073
Extension 55642

Kidney Transplant News

Man Donates Kidney to Teen With Special Needs

May 09, 2016

Robin Kim, MD, performs transplant surgery for teen with special needs... Read More

College student has curfew for health as she waits for Gift of Hope

Dec 10, 2015

Imagine having to be home each night at a certain time or your health could suffer. Truc Tran, 20, has been waiting for a kidney so she can get back to the business of living life.... Read More

Colin's Kidney - Live-Tweet of a Kidney Transplant

Colin's Kidney - Live-Tweet of a Kidney Transplant

Jan 15, 2015

The official home for live updates of University of Utah Health Care's live-tweet of a kidney transplant.... Read More

Tiny transplant: A special Christmas for toddler saved by record-setting surgery

Jan 02, 2015

It’s the first Christmas for 22-month-old Aspen Erickson after her life-saving liver-kidney transplant — the smallest transplant of its kind ever on record. ... Read More

Utah man gives early Christmas gift to Idaho teen with failing kidney

Dec 20, 2014

a man simply called the hospital one day and said he wanted to donate his kidney. ... Read More

World's smallest liver-kidney transplant saves toddler's life

Oct 22, 2014

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BYU graduate cured of diabetes after kidney and pancreas transplant at University of Utah

Mar 30, 2014

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Man's Kidney Donation Is 'Missing Link' for Three Transplants

Sep 20, 2013

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Utah man's search for kidney ends in successful transplant

May 13, 2013

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Bountiful woman finally gets kidney transplant thanks to daisy chain

Dec 14, 2011

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Kidney Transplantation

What is a kidney transplant?

A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure done to implant a healthy kidney from another person. The kidney may come from a deceased donor or from a living donor.

A person receiving a transplant usually receives only one kidney, but, in rare situations, he or she may receive two kidneys. In most cases, the diseased kidneys are left in place during the transplant procedure. The transplanted kidney is implanted in the lower abdomen on the front side of the body.

Why is a kidney transplant recommended?

A kidney transplant is recommended for people who have end-stage kidney disease and will not be able to live without dialysis or a transplant. In the U.S., the most common cause of end-stage kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. there are also many other causes of end-stage kidney disease. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis:

How many people in the United States need kidney transplants?

Visit United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) for statistics of patients awaiting a kidney transplant, and the number of patients who underwent a transplant this year.

Where do transplanted organs come from?

Most kidneys that are transplanted come from deceased organ donors. Organ donors are adults who have become critically ill and are pronounced dead because their brain or heart has stopped working permanently. Kidneys are harvested after these adults are pronounced dead. The family of the deceased person needs to agree to donate the person's organs. Donors can come from any part of the United States. This type of transplant is called a deceased donor transplant.

A person receiving a transplant usually receives only one kidney, but, in rare situations, he or she may receive two. Some experimentation with splitting one kidney for two recipients is underway. Family members or individuals who are unrelated, but make a good match, may also be able to donate one of their kidneys. This type of transplant is called a living transplant (living donor). People who donate a kidney can live healthy lives with the kidney that remains. A child older than 2 years can generally receive an adult kidney, as there is usually enough space in the belly for the new kidney to fit.

According to the latest statistics from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, there were 16,813 kidney transplants performed in 2011. Of that total, 11,043 were from deceased donors and 5,770 were from living donors.

How are transplanted organs allocated?

UNOS is responsible for transplant organ distribution in the United States. UNOS oversees the allocation of many different types of transplants, including kidney, liver, pancreas, heart, lung, cornea, bone, and skin.

UNOS receives data from hospitals and medical centers throughout the country regarding adults and children who need organ transplants. The medical transplant team that currently follows you is responsible for sending your data to UNOS, and updating them as your condition changes.

As of December 4, 2014, the newly revised kidney allocation system (KAS) has been in place. This new system was designed to improve transplant opportunities for all candidates giving better access to patients who often wait longer due to blood type or other reasons. If you were already on a waiting list before the implementation of the new KAS you will not lose your place in line. Talk to your health care provider about the new KAS guidelines.

When a donor organ becomes available, a computer searches all the people on the waiting list for a kidney and sets aside those who are not good matches for the available kidney. A new list is made from the remaining candidates. The person at the top of the specialized list is considered for the transplant. If he or she is not a good candidate, for whatever reason, the next person is considered, and so forth. Some reasons that people lower on the list might be considered before a person at the top include the size of the donor organ and the geographic distance between the donor and the recipient.

How am I placed on the waiting list for a new kidney?

An extensive evaluation must be completed before you can be placed on the transplant list. Testing includes:

  • Blood tests

  • Diagnostic tests

  • Psychological and social evaluation

Blood tests are done to gather information that will help determine how urgent it is that you are placed on the transplant list, as well as ensure that you receive a donor organ that is a good match. Some of the tests you may already be familiar with, since they evaluate the health of your kidney and other organs. These tests may include:

  • Blood chemistries. These may include serum creatinine, electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium), cholesterol, and liver function tests.

  • Clotting studies, such as prothrombin time (PT) and partial thromboplastin time (PTT). Tests that measure the time it takes for blood to clot.

Other blood tests will help improve the chances that the donor organ will not be rejected. They may include:

  • Your blood type. Each person has a specific blood type: type A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+. AB-, O+, or O-. When receiving a transfusion, the blood received must be a compatible type with your own, or an allergic reaction will occur. The same allergic reaction will occur if the blood contained within a donor organ enters your body during a transplant. Allergic reactions can be avoided by matching the blood types of you and the donor.

  • Human leukocyte antigens (HLA ) and panel reactive antibody (PRA). These tests help determine the likelihood of success of an organ transplant by checking for antibodies in your blood. Antibodies are made by the body's immune system in reaction to a foreign substance, such as a blood transfusion or a virus. Antibodies in the bloodstream will try to attack transplanted organs. Therefore, persons who receive a transplant will take medications that decrease this immune response. The higher your PRA, the more likely that an organ will be rejected.

  • Viral studies. These tests determine if you have viruses that may increase the likelihood of rejecting the donor organ, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV). Many other infectious diseases are also tested for, including HIV and hepatitis.

Diagnostic tests that are performed are necessary to understand your complete medical status. The following are some of the other tests that may be performed, although many of the tests are decided on an individual basis:

  • Renal ultrasound. A noninvasive test in which a transducer is passed over the kidney producing sound waves which bounce off of the kidney, transmitting a picture of the organ on a video screen. The test is used to determine the size and shape of the kidney, and to detect a mass, kidney stone, cyst, or other obstruction or abnormalities.

  • Kidney biopsy. A procedure in which tissue samples are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the kidney for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP). A series of X-rays of the kidney, ureters, and bladder with the injection of a contrast dye into the vein to detect tumors, abnormalities, kidney stones, or any obstructions, and to assess renal blood flow.

The transplant team will consider all information from interviews, your medical history, physical exam, and diagnostic tests in determining whether you can be a candidate for kidney transplantation. After the evaluation and you have been accepted to have a kidney transplant, you will be placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) list.

If you are receiving a kidney donated by a living donor, the donor will undergo a similar evaluation. 

The transplant team

During the evaluation process, you will be interviewed by many members of the transplant team. The following are some of the members of the team:

  • Transplant surgeons. Doctors who specialize in transplants and who will be doing the surgery.

  • Nephrologist. A doctor who specializes in disorders of the kidneys. Nephrologists will help manage your condition before and after the surgery.

  • Transplant nurse coordinator. A nurse who organizes all aspects of care provided to you before and after the transplant. The nurse coordinator will provide education, and coordinates the diagnostic testing and follow-up care.

  • Social workers. Professionals who will help your family deal with many issues that may arise including lodging and transportation, finances, and legal issues.

  • Dietitians. Professionals who will help you meet your nutritional needs before and after the transplant.

  • Physical therapists. Professionals who will help you become strong and independent with movement and endurance after the transplantation.

  • Pastoral care. Chaplains who provide spiritual care and support.

  • Other team members. Several other team members will evaluate you before transplantation and will make recommendations to the team. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Anesthesiologist

    • Hematologist

    • Infectious disease specialist

    • Psychologist

How long will it take to get a new kidney?

There is no definite answer to this question. If you have a compatible and healthy living donor, you may be able to get a transplant within a few weeks or months. If no living-related donor is available, it may take months or years on the waiting list before a suitable donor organ is available. During this time, you will receive close follow-up with your doctors and the transplant team. Various support groups are also available to assist you during this waiting time.

How am I notified when a kidney is available?

Each transplant team has its own specific guidelines regarding waiting on the transplant list and being notified when a donor organ is available. In most instances, you will be notified by phone or pager that an organ is available. You will be told to come to the hospital immediately so that you can be prepared for the transplant.

What is rejection?

Rejection is a normal reaction of the body to foreign tissue. When a new kidney is placed in a person's body, the body sees the transplanted organ as a threat and tries to attack it. The immune system makes antibodies to try to kill the new organ, not realizing that the transplanted kidney is beneficial. To allow the organ to successfully live in a new body, medications must be given to trick the immune system into accepting the transplant and not thinking it is a foreign object.

What is done to prevent rejection?

Medications must be given for the rest of your life to fight rejection. Each person is individual, and each transplant team has preferences for different medications. The antirejection medications most commonly used singly or in combination include:

  • Cyclosporine

  • Tacrolimus

  • Azathioprine

  • Mycophenolate mofetil

  • Prednisone

  • OKT3

  • Antithymocyte Ig

New antirejection medications are continually being approved. Doctors tailor drug regimes to meet the needs of each individual.

Usually several antirejection medications are given initially. The doses of these medications may change frequently as your response to them changes. Because antirejection medications affect the immune system, persons who receive a transplant will be at higher risk for infections or even certain types of cancer. A balance must be maintained between preventing rejection and making you very susceptible to infection. Blood tests to measure the amount of medication in the body are done periodically to make sure you do not get too much or too little of the medications. White blood cells are also an important indicator of how much medication you need.

This risk of infection is especially great in the first few months because higher doses of antirejection medications are given during this time. You will most likely need to take medications to prevent other infections from occurring.

What are the signs of rejection?

The following are some of the most common symptoms of rejection:

  • Fever

  • Tenderness over the kidney

  • Elevated blood creatinine level

  • High blood pressure

Your transplant team will instruct you on who to call right away if any of these symptoms occur.

Long-term outlook for a person after a kidney transplant

Living with a transplant is a lifelong process. Medications must be given that trick the immune system so it will not attack the transplanted organ. Other medications must be given to prevent side effects of the antirejection medications, such as infection. Frequent visits to and contact with the transplant team are essential. Knowing the signs of organ rejection and watching for them on a daily basis are critical.

Every person is different and every transplant is different. The new antirejection medications that are being approved are very exciting. Results improve continually as doctors and scientists learn more about how the body deals with transplanted organs and search for ways to improve the success of transplantation.

Faris Ahmed, M.D., FASN, M.B.B.S.

Dr. Ahmed joins the Kidney Transplantation program at the University of Utah after specialized training abroad and domestically. As a transplant nephrologist, he assists the pre- and post-transplant evaluation and management of kidney transplant patients in addition to the evaluation of living donors. He is active in transplant research and will be... Read More


Kidney Transplant, Nephrology & Hypertension


University Hospital
Kidney and Liver Clinic
(801) 585-6320
University Hospital
Transplant and Specialty Clinic
(801) 585-6320

Laith F. Al-Rabadi, M.B.B.S.

Dr. Al-Rabadi finished his undergraduate and medical training at Jordan University of Science and Technology in 2007. Afterwards, he joined Edelman lab at Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology to study endothelial dysfunction in uremic milieu. Dr. Al-Rabdi finished his Internal Medicine training at University of Iowa in 2013 then ... Read More


Kidney Transplant, Nephrology & Hypertension


South Jordan Health Center
South Jordan Nephrology Clinic
(801) 213-4500
University Hospital
Kidney and Liver Clinic
(801) 585-6320
University Hospital
Transplant and Specialty Clinic
(801) 585-6320

Paul J. Campsen, M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.6 out of 5

Paul Jeffery Campsen, MD, FACS, FAST is the Surgical Director of Pancreas Transplantation, Adult and Pediatric Kidney Transplantation, and Living Donor Kidney Transplantation at the University of Utah. He practices at the University Hospital, Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), and Primary Children's Medical Center. Dr. Campsen specializes in hepatob... Read More

Thomas Chaly, Jr., M.D.

Dr. Chaly received a Bachelor of Science at the University of California. Upon graduating from college he accepted a research position in the Department of Surgery at UCSF, where he studied aneurysm proliferation and arteriovenous malformations. After receiving his Doctor of Medicine from MUA, he began his residency in General Surgery at Tulane Un... Read More

Jacke L. Corbett, FNP-BC, D.N.P.

Patient Rating:


4.8 out of 5

Jacke started working the Kidney Transplant Team in 1990 as a Kidney Transplant Coordinator. After completing her advanced degree, she started working as a nurse practitioner, caring for kidney and pancreas transplant recipients and living donors.... Read More


Kidney Transplant, Nephrology & Hypertension, Pancreas Transplant


University Hospital
Transplant Center
(801) 581-2634

Isaac E. Hall, M.D.

Isaac E. Hall, MD, MS is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology & Hypertension. Dr. Hall received a BA in Mathematics from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO and his MD from the University of New Mexico. He completed Internal Medicine residency and Nephrology fellowship training at Yale-New Haven Hospital before... Read More


Kidney Transplant, Nephrology & Hypertension


University Hospital
Transplant Center
(801) 585-6320


Kidney Transplant


University Hospital
Transplant Center
(801) 585-6322

Robin D. Kim, M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.7 out of 5

Dr. Kim received his Bachelor of Arts from The Johns Hopkins University and his Doctor of Medicine from Jefferson Medical College. He completed his residency in General Surgery at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine which included a two-year research fellowship in liver regeneration and cancer. Following his residency, Dr. Kim went ... Read More


Hepatopancreatobiliary (Liver/Pancreas/Biliary) Surgery, Kidney Transplant, Liver Cancer, Liver Disease, Liver Transplant, Pancreas Transplant, Transplant Surgery


Huntsman Cancer Hospital (801) 585-6140
Primary Children's Hospital
Pediatric Gastroenterology
(801) 585-6140
University Hospital
Transplant Center
(801) 585-6320

Fuad Shihab, M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.6 out of 5

Fuad Shihab, M.D. is a Professor of Medicine and the Medical Director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation Programs at the University of Utah Hospital and Clinics and the Director of the Kidney and Liver Clinics. He also serves as an elected member of the Board of Directors of the University Medical Group. As a transplant nephrologist, he man... Read More


Dialysis, Kidney Transplant, Nephrology & Hypertension


University Hospital
Transplant Center
(801) 585-6320

University of Utah

University Hospital 50 N. Medical Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84132
(801) 585-3188
Kidney Exchange Connects Strangers Through Life-saving Donations

Kidney Exchange Connects Strangers Through Life-saving Donations

How do you pay it forward? One Good Samaritan was inspired to help a stranger- any stranger.  In the end it wasn’t one life he saved—but three.  His kind gesture completed a kidney donation chain between patients at University of Utah Hospital and Primary Children’s Hospital. What makes this medi...

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What began as a routine trip to the sandwich shop led to a life changing moment for more than a dozen strangers from various walks of life. “I didn’t expect it at all. It was amazing when it happened,” said Kalynn Olsen....

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