Pediatric Kidney Transplant
Why choose UCLA Health for pediatric kidney transplant?
The specialists in the UCLA Pediatric Kidney Program have performed more than 900 pediatric kidney transplants, making us one of the highest-volume programs in the country. Thanks to the experience of our kidney transplant surgeons, we consistently lead the nation in both volume and outcomes.
We care for children at every stage of care, from diagnosis through transplantation and recovery. When you choose UCLA Health for your child’s kidney transplant, you benefit from:
Exceptional outcomes: Our program has some of the best 3-year graft and patient survival rates in the country. Our 3-year graft survival rate is 95% and our survival rate is 100%, exceeding the national averages of 88% and 98%.
Comprehensive care: We understand that, because children are still growing and developing, they need specialized care. Our kidney transplant team collaborates with multiple pediatric specialists to focus on the comprehensive needs of every child, including brain development, post-transplant care, and social and psychological support.
Expertise in complex conditions: We regularly treat children who have been denied for a transplant at other locations. Our kidney transplant surgeons have the expertise to care for children with complex conditions, such as those who need extensive bladder reconstruction or have rare diseases.
Smooth transitions: Our goal is to make your child’s care journey as seamless as possible. We have a buddy system and patient support groups in place to connect children with other children and teens who have had a successful transplant. When the time comes, we also have a dedicated process to help your child transition smoothly into adult care.
Promising new approaches: Our specialists conduct research and clinical trials so that we can continue to find and develop new treatments in pediatric care. For example, we’re continuing to advance our techniques in multi-organ transplantations and are investigating the use of new medications, such as steroid-free immunosuppressive drugs.
Our areas of care
When your child needs an organ transplant, you want to find them the right match as quickly as possible. That’s our goal, too.
We offer options to help expand the donor pool and increase the likelihood that your child receives timely treatment. Some of our options include:
Immunogenetics for transplants: Our Immunogenetics Center is a World Health Organization reference laboratory for crossmatch testing and HLA typing. This means that we are experts at analyzing genes, antibodies and tissue so that we can help your child find an excellent donor match.
Incompatible donor transplants: At UCLA Health, we can sometimes perform transplants even when the donor and recipient are not a perfectly compatible pair. We are experts in a process called “desensitizing,” where we lower certain types of antibodies in the recipient’s blood. This means your child is more likely to accept the donor organ, broadening the donor pool even further.
Pediatric kidney exchange: We are one of the only centers in the nation that offers kidney exchange for children. Since 2008, our Kidney Exchange Program has allowed more children and adults to receive living donor transplants. We achieve this by matching living donors and recipients with other donor/recipient pairs who are a compatible match.
Conditions we treat
We offer kidney transplants for children whose kidneys have stopped working, resulting in kidney failure. Some of the reasons for pediatric kidney failure can include:
Birth defects that can affect the kidneys include:
Ectopic kidneys: When the kidneys are in the wrong place.
Horseshoe kidney: When both kidneys join and form a horseshoe shape.
Kidney dysplasia: When a kidney functions improperly or not at all.
Inherited kidney disease
In some cases, children may be born with rare forms of kidney disease, such as:
Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease: When large cysts grow in the kidneys and cause severe illness.
Multicystic dysplastic kidney (MCDK) disease: When the kidney does not develop properly, and cysts take over healthy tissue.
Treatments we offer
When children need a kidney transplant, they are eligible for one of the following transplant types:
Deceased donor transplant: In these types of kidney transplants, the donor kidney comes from someone who has suffered brain or cardiac death and has generously donated organs for transplant. In Los Angeles, the wait list for a deceased donor transplant can be several years.
Living donor transplant: Living donors are often blood relatives or close friends. Finding a live donor match can decrease wait times and increase long-term survival. Only one in five people who want to donate are healthy enough to give a kidney. Children who do not have a living donor match may be placed on the waitlist for this type of kidney transplant or participate in our Kidney Exchange Program.
Multi-organ transplant: Some children may need more than one organ transplant. In these cases, we work closely with experts in our other programs to transplant multiple organs in one operation. Our surgeons are skilled in all solid organ transplants, including for the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and small intestine.
Meet our team
Experts at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital and Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center collaborate to provide comprehensive care for your child. Our kidney transplant team includes pediatric urologists, kidney transplant surgeons and other experts.