Kidney Transplant Surgery 





Under general anesthesia, an incision is made on the right or left side of the lower abdomen just above the groin.  The surgical team places the donor kidney into the abdomen and connects the kidney’s blood vessels to the recipient’s iliac artery and vein.  The surgeons then attach the ureter directly to the bladder. The recipient’s own kidneys are not removed. The operation usually takes from two to four hours.   

After the Surgery

After surgery, patients will be transferred to a specialized floor with expertise in managing patients after transplant.  The patient can expect to feel some discomfort which can be treated with pain medication.  The patient will have an intravenous (IV) line in the arm or neck to supply nutrients, fluids and medication for the first few days after surgery.  The patient will also have a catheter in the bladder to collect measure and drain urine for a few days.  During surgery, a drain may be placed in or near the incision to drain any excess fluid.  This will be removed five to ten days after surgery.

The patient is usually out of bed and walking a day or two after surgery and is eating a normal diet within three days.

Drugs to control rejection start immediately. During the hospital stay, patients are taught about the anti-rejection medications and become knowledgeable about the warning signs of rejection. To benefit our patients, all immunosuppression therapy is customized and minimized post transplant. As soon as the patient is able, the transplant team will begin to prepare him or her for going home, usually in five to seven days.

Patients are monitored very closely by the Hahnemann University Hospital Transplant Team for the first six months after surgery.  Organ recipients must return for appointments twice a week for the first two to three weeks following surgery and then gradually reduce visits over time. During the visits, blood tests are performed to detect early signs of rejection and any side effects from medication are addressed.

After six months, patients return to the care of their primary nephrologist and family physician.  In addition, patients return to Hahnemann every three to six months where the Transplant Team continues to monitor their progress.  

Keeping the Patient's Healthcare Team Informed

Communications and cooperation between the transplant team, primary care physician, referring nephrologist, pharmacist, dentist and the patient is essential. The patient must be sure that each health care provider knows about the transplant, daily medications taken, and the precautions that must be followed to ensure the patient’s health.         

Coping with Emotions

Hahnemann offers counseling services to help patients cope with stressful feelings, adjust to life at home and prepare for return to work or school.  The transplant coordinator or social worker can provide information regarding these services.



Hahnemann University Hospital | 230 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19102