Minimally-invasive surgical techniques, growth in referrals and expanded outreach for living donors continue to build P/SL’s Kidney Transplant Center. As the Kidney Transplant Center for the whole HealthONE system, it is one of the region’s largest. Since its inception in 1985, there have been 1,440 kidney transplants. Each year between 55 and 60 procedures are performed and last year, 22 of them were the result of securing living donors for transplant candidates.
The Kidney Transplant team is focusing increasingly on expanding the living donor program. Living donor kidneys last longer and are healthier. P/SL has had a high success rate with Living Donors mainly due to the extensive screening and education that the team does. Donors receive a thorough health evaluation to ensure they are in excellent health and are an appropriate match.
Eligible donors are then assessed for their understanding of the risks associated with donation to ensure they have informed consent. We will then assist donors with logistics: employer, time off, having a support person in place.
The majority of living donors are found among family members and friends. There has also been an increase in donors stepping forward to donate to someone they don’t know. The reason for the increase is technology; it’s easier to communicate a need through the Internet and social media.
One important message for potential living donors is that the procedure is a lot easier than it once was because of new laparoscopic surgical techniques pioneered by P/SL transplant surgeon Dr. Thomas Bak. Laparoscopy has reduced the risk and discomfort of kidney transplantation. With a living donor, laparoscopic nephrectomy can be accomplished in a little more than an hour and a half. Small incisions are made through the abdominal wall rather than through the back. Recovery is easier with less pain.