Kidney Transplant

The kidney transplant program at NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s oldest and the largest renal transplantation program. Across our two campuses — Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical Center, we perform more than 400 deceased-donor and living-donor kidney transplants each year. Our physicians are regarded as pioneers in the field.

At NewYork-Presbyterian, we are focused on one goal — improving the quality of life of patients suffering from end-stage kidney disease and advanced renal failure through access to kidney transplantation.

Transplant Eligibility

Kidney transplant is considered the best treatment for those with advanced chronic kidney disease. You do not have to be on dialysis to receive a kidney transplant. Patients who are not yet receiving dialysis may still qualify for kidney transplant if their kidney function test — glomerular filtration rate (GFR) — is less than 20 mL per minute. Whenever possible, we make every attempt to facilitate transplantation before you require dialysis – a “pre-emptive” transplant.

Many conditions can cause chronic kidney disease, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Glomerular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus and lupus nephritis)

Congenital kidney disorders — a group of rare conditions that are present at birth and typically passed through families — may also cause renal failure, requiring a transplant during childhood or in early adulthood.

Our transplant team evaluates patients to determine if they meet eligibility requirements and are healthy enough for kidney transplant. In general, patients with severe heart, liver, or lung disease, recent cancer diagnosis or treatment, or a history of not adhering to medical care — regularly missing dialysis sessions or medication noncompliance — may be ineligible for transplant surgery.

Our Transplant Team

Successful kidney transplantation requires a multi-disciplinary team. At NewYork-Presbyterian, we’ve brought together extraordinarily talented physicians, surgeons, nurses, psychologists, dietitians, social workers, and many other staff members to help patients and their families through the process. Some of the key members of your transplant team include:

  • Transplant surgeons. Our nationally recognized kidney transplant surgeons provide not only exceptional surgical care. Our transplant specialists are involved in research to advance the field of transplantation.
  • Nephrologists. The nephrology specialists at NewYork-Presbyterian manage all nonsurgical aspects of kidney care. They provide most of the post-operative care, and work with your local doctor to make sure your care team at home is up-to-date with your progress. Many of our transplant nephrologists are recognized as national leaders in the field.
  • Dietitians. Our registered dietitians help you address any issue regarding your nutrition, before and after your kidney transplant. They provide help for patients who need to lose weight, and for patients who experience decreased appetite. They will assist you in finding a healthy diet appropriate for your medical condition.
  • Finance Coordinator. Our financial coordinators work with you to determine what options are available for covering the cost of kidney transplantation. They can determine what your insurance will pay and any out-of-pocket expenses you might have. If needed, our finance coordinators can connect you to financial assistance services available through NewYork-Presbyterian.
  • Psychologists and psychiatrists. Our mental health specialists provide counseling and therapy to help you and your family deal with the stress associated with chronic kidney disease and transplantation.
  • Social workers. Our licensed social workers provide counseling and support to you and your family throughout the process. They will help connect you to caregiver and family support services you may need while recovering from transplant surgery. They are also here to help with any emotional or family issues that may arise during and after the transplant process.
  • Transplant coordinators. Our transplant coordinators are nurses, nurse practitioners, or physicians’ assistants who guide prospective patients through from evaluation to long term follow-up. They work closely with your transplant nephrologist and surgeon, as well as with all the members of your team, to prepare you for kidney transplant, schedule follow-up visits, monitor test results, help you understand your medications, and are your primary contacts for questions or concerns.
  • Transplant pharmacists. Our transplant pharmacists will provide education about your anti-rejection medications and any other medications you will need to take to maintain a healthy transplant.

Kidney Transplant Options

There are two types of kidney transplants — those from a living donor and those from a deceased donor. Both living donor and deceased donor transplants are better treatments for kidney failure than long-term dialysis.

  • Living donor kidney transplants. A living donor kidney transplant from a family member, friend, spouse, or acquaintance is, on average, the best option. Long-term success rates are better than with a deceased donor kidney, and the recipient spends less time waiting for a donor organ. Our programs work very hard to assist patients find suitable live donors. More than 50 percent of our transplants are from live donors, compared to only 35 percent nationally. Learn more about our living-donor kidney transplant program.
  • Deceased donor transplant. This procedure is reserved for people who do not have a willing or medically suitable living donor. Patients waiting for a deceased donor kidney are placed on the national kidney transplant waiting list, which is managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Your waiting time is counted from either the day you started dialysis or, if you are not on dialysis, the day you are approved by the transplant team and placed on the wait-list. Waiting times at NewYork-Presbyterian are amongst the shortest in our region. However, due to the overall shortage of deceased donor kidneys, most people still wait several years for a deceased donor transplant. Your transplant team will discuss with you the various options for deceased donor transplantation.

Benefits, Risks & Outcomes

Compared with long-term dialysis treatments, kidney transplant is the best option to improve your overall health and your quality of life, and provide the greatest opportunity for a longer life. Like all medical and surgical interventions, it is important to understand the benefits and risks involved.

At NewYork-Presbyterian, our kidney transplant team will discuss with you and your family any issues that are specific to your case, review past patient outcomes, potential lifestyle changes you’ll have to make, and life goals you’d like to achieve post-surgery.

As part of the No. 1 hospital in New York, our kidney transplant patients have access to outstanding subspecialists, including cardiologists, urologists, and infectious disease doctors, who are experienced in working with kidney transplant recipients. These specialists are available to consult and assist with the care of kidney transplant patients when needed.

At NewYork-Presbyterian, we have two highly successful kidney transplant programs — the Renal and Pancreatic Transplant Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University and the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. These two programs are top ranked in the region for the volume of transplants performed.

In the past 30 years, we’ve performed more than twice as many kidney transplants as any other center in the state. Our kidney transplant programs have excellent patient and organ survival rates — more than 90 percent of patients still alive with a functioning transplant a year after transplant, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. This is significant outcome because of the high volume of transplants we perform on a diverse and often complex patient population.

Contact

NewYork-Presbyterian/
Columbia University Medical Center

Renal and Pancreatic Transplant Program
Phone: 212-305-6469

The Pancreas Center
Phone: 212-305-9467

NewYork-Presbyterian/
Weill Cornell Medical Center

Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Programs
Phone: 212-746-3099