Kidney Transplant Surgery, Aftercare, and Costs
What happens during the hospital stay?
The kidney transplant surgery is done at Phoenix Children's Hospital. The average surgery takes 3 to 5 hours. The donor kidney is placed in the lower abdomen. The existing kidneys may or may not be removed, based on necessity. After surgery, the child goes to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for 1-2 days.
Most children leave the hospital in one or two weeks. A child who is having problems may need to stay longer.
The 2 biggest problems are rejection and infection.
Rejection happens when your immune system tries to destroy the new kidney. Blood tests are done regularly to monitor for kidney rejection. Rejection is a diagnosis that has to be confirmed by kidney biopsy.
The child will need to take medicine to prevent him or her from rejecting the kidney. This is called immunosuppressive or anti-rejection medicine. A child's immune system keeps him or her healthy. The immunosuppressive medicines keep the immune system working at a low level. This helps your child's body accept the new transplant and not reject it. When your child's immune system is suppressed or working at a low level, he or she has a greater chance of getting an infection. Infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungus. Your child will be given medicine to help prevent infections after transplant.
What happens after the kidney transplant?
After transplant, children need to see the doctor on a regular basis. For the first month after leaving the hospital, you need to return to the outpatient transplant clinic 3 times per week. After the first month, you need to come back to see the doctor and have blood tests on a regular basis. If you live far from the hospital, you can leave the Phoenix area after 1 to 2 months. Even when we are able to space out the doctor's visits, your child will need regular laboratory testing for the rest of his or her life.
Who pays for a kidney transplant?
Kidney transplants are very expensive. When planning a transplant, it is very important to look at insurance and income. Your financial coordinator and social worker will help you with this.
In the beginning, you need to find out how the surgery will be paid for, how to pay for the cost of living if you need to take time off from work to take care of the child, how to get to and from the hospital and appointments, and if you need a place to stay near the hospital.
After the transplant, you will need money for the medicine to keep your child from rejecting the kidney and medicine to prevent infections.