Jason Wellen, MD, MBA, performing surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Washington University kidney transplant surgeons save lives. Our team of surgeons perform more than 250 kidney transplants each year.

The Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center is a leader in kidney transplant, performing the most kidney transplants in Missouri, and one of the highest volumes in the nation.

Our expert team is ready to help you through the transplant process.

Our Approach

Washington University kidney transplant surgeons work with a multidisciplinary team of Washington University Physicians and other specialists to coordinate your care. Patients at the transplant center meet with XYZ. Our team works together to find the best treatment for every patient.

Our transplant surgeons have been caring for patients with the end-stage renal disease since 1963. In that time, we have performed over 5,000 kidney transplants. Washington University transplant surgeons continue to innovate and improve the kidney transplant process for our patients. At the Transplant Center, you will be seen by leaders in the field.

We understand that patients have unique needs. Washington University kidney transplant surgeons offer different types of kidney transplant surgeries to meet the needs of all patients.

Why would I need a kidney transplant?

Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located in the middle of your back below the ribs. They perform many important functions.

Your kidneys:

  • Remove waste and excess fluid
  • Filter the blood
  • Produce hormones that help control blood pressure, make red blood cells and keep bones strong
  • Make vitamins that control growth

Kidney failure, also called renal failure, is a serious health condition. When your kidneys fail, you need some kind of treatment to do the important work your kidneys cannot do. Kidney transplant is a treatment that can help you live a long and healthy life, free from dialysis.

Causes and Risk Factors for Kidney Failure

There are several reasons your kidneys might fail. These conditions commonly lead to kidney failure:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Hypertensive nephrosclerosis
  • Glomerular diseases
  • Renovascular and other vascular diseases

Am I eligible for a kidney transplant?

We are here to help you through the kidney transplant process.

This process usually begins with a referral from your nephrologist. Once we receive your referral, we will pair you with a transplant nurse coordinator, who will help you throughout the process.

Our specialists will perform an evaluation to make sure you are eligible for a kidney transplant. This will include medical tests that help us determine if you will benefit from transplant.

Treatment

If the transplant team determines that you are a good candidate for kidney transplant surgery, we will add you to the national waitlist through the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The wait time varies from person to person. If you know someone who is interested in donating a kidney, we can determine if they are a suitable match for you. We understand that it can be hard to ask someone to donate an organ. Our Washington University kidney transplant team has a program that can help you find someone to reach out to your friends and family to see if they are interested in donating a kidney.

Washington University kidney transplant surgeons offer different types of kidney transplant surgeries to meet the needs of all patients. We tailor our care to each patient to make sure your needs are met.

Kidney transplant options include:

  • Deceased kidney donor transplant
  • Living kidney donor transplant, including:
    • Paired-donor kidney transplant
    • Incompatible-donor kidney transplant
  • Kidney-pancreas transplant

Our fellowship-trained surgeons use the latest technology to make the kidney transplant process safe and successful. We are able to offer minimally invasive approaches for kidney transplant donors and recipients.

These procedures use smaller incisions, which typically result in less pain, shorter length of stay, faster recovery and smaller or less noticeable scars compared to open surgery.

Minimally Invasive Kidney Transplant Surgery

Our surgeons use the latest technology to make the kidney transplant process safe and successful. We offer minimally invasive approaches for kidney transplant donors and recipients.

Minimally invasive surgery uses smaller incisions than open surgery, which typically result in less pain, shorter length of stay, faster recovery and smaller or less noticeable scars compared to open surgery.

Minimally invasive kidney transplant procedures include:

  • Mini-nephrectomy: This approach uses an open technique that surgeons at Barnes-Jewish Hospital developed. For this procedure, a surgeon uses a much smaller incision than was traditionally used to remove the donor’s kidney. The incision is located on your back, between the bottom rib and the hip. We close the small incision with internal stitches that dissolve, shortening your recovery.
  • Laparoscopic donor surgery: In this procedure, a surgeon makes three tiny incisions in the donor’s abdomen. These incisions make room for the surgical tools used to remove the donor kidney. These incisions generally heal quickly.
  • Robotic donor nephrectomy: Just like laparoscopic surgery, robotic surgery uses small incisions to remove the donor kidney. With robotic surgery, the surgeon sits at a console in the operating room and controls the surgical tools from the console. Benefits of robotic surgery include smaller incision sizes, 3D visualization and wrist-like motion.
  • Robotic kidney transplant: In this procedure, the surgeon performs the kidney transplant through small incisions, using a surgical robot. The surgeon is in the operating room with the patient, controlling the surgical tools from a console.

Washington University kidney transplant surgeons are experts in minimally invasive techniques, and the Transplant Center at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital is one of the few centers in the country able to offer robotic surgery for kidney transplantation.

Care Team
Resources and Support

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Appointments

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News

The Transplant team at Washington University sets a standard of excellence through patient care, research and education initiatives. Read stories from our team and services below.