Renal Transplantation

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Program Highlights

The kidney transplantation program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham began in 1968, and has been at the forefront of the field ever since. Averaging nearly 300 transplants per year, the program maintains an active clinical and research effort. We provide transplant care to patients from Alabama and throughout the southeastern United States. UAB is the only transplant center within the Alabama Organ Center, which boasts a donation rate of 30 per million-population and a conversion rate of 81%, both of which are much higher than reported national averages.

  • We perform up to 100 live kidney donor operations per year. The overwhelming majority of living donations are performed laparoscopically, with donors enjoying a shorter hospital stay, accelerated recovery, and quicker return to work.
  • The Mobile outreach clinic allows us to see post-transplant patients from southern Alabama closer to home, reducing the need for these patients to travel to Birmingham for follow-up.
  • Our Incompatible Kidney Transplant Program offers desensitization, ABO-incompatible transplants, and paired exchange for living donor pairs who could not otherwise proceed with transplantation.
  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham kidney transplant team is actively engaged in the study of new drugs and therapies to improve transplantation outcomes. Studies include both investigator-initiated as well as larger, multi-center trials. Several pivotal trials found their roots at UAB, and the transplant division continues to be at the forefront of basic science and clinical investigation. 

Outcomes

As reported by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, our one-year graft survival of 96% is statistically higher than the expected outcome.  After three years, graft survival remains higher than expected.  One-year patient survival of 97% and three-year survival of 82% are at the expected level. rate of delayed graft function, defined as need for dialysis in the first week after transplant is 1.2%, compared with 24.2% nationwide.

Patient-Centered Approach

Patients are cared for by a multidisciplinary team that includes surgeons, transplant nephrologistspre-transplant coordinatorspost-transplant coordinators, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and therapists. From the beginning of the evaluation process, through to the transplant and aftercare beyond, this dedicated team of individuals provides an outstanding level of care to our patients. The evaluation of patients for both kidney donation and transplantation is accomplished in a single day in the outpatient setting, streamlining the process by bringing all members of the team to the patient in one location.

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Facilities

Kidney transplants are performed in UABs new, state-of-the-art operating complex. Facilities for advanced laaoroscopy are available for living donor surgeries. A 22  bed surgical intensive care unit is available when needed, although the majority of transplant recipients are initially cared for in our dedicated transplant step-down unit. Located on the main kidney transplant ward, this unit is staffed continuously by a dedicated transplant nursing team. Patients are subsequently cared for on the transplant ward. Following discharge, out-of-town patients stay at the UAB Townhouse, a converted hotel that provides patients with a measure of independence, but also easy and convenient access to transplant aftercare during the early postoperative period. The kidney transplant clinic is located within the main hospital, in close proximity to laboratory and radiology services.