Our kidney transplant program is one of the largest and oldest in the world. The first kidney transplant in Minnesota was performed at the University of Minnesota, and the world's first kidney-pancreas transplant was performed here in 1966. We pioneered kidney transplants in children and in diabetics. Our nephrology program is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as high performing. To date, we have performed more than 8,000 kidney transplants.
For a person deciding to have a kidney transplant, there are 2 donor options – a living donor or a deceased donor. Our program strongly recommends living donation whenever possible. This is because the transplant can be done sooner (ideally, before dialysis starts) and the results are better. Our kidney transplant program is internationally recognized for our expertise in living kidney donation. More than half of the kidneys we transplant come from living donors. Kidney transplants from living donors offer the best outcome, so we are working hard to help our patients have a chance to receive a living donor kidney.
We regularly perform living donor kidney transplants arranged through our paired exchange program (PEP!), which is a great option for transplant candidates with living donors who may not be a match. We also offer desensitization therapy for living or deceased donor transplant candidates when they are hard to match.
In 1999, we became the first hospital in the United States to perform a kidney transplant from a non-directed living donor -- when a donor gives a kidney to someone on a waiting list that he or she does not know. We continue to be the national leader in this area, having had more people donate through this program than any other in the country. Non-directed living kidney donors who participate in our paired exchange program often find their gift triggers two or more transplants.
Our pioneering research has dramatically improved survival rates and post-transplant quality of life. We pride ourselves on performing kidney transplants under difficult circumstances, such as situations where the operation is technically difficult or when there are immunologic barriers (for example, when a patient has antibodies that might normally prevent him or her from receiving a kidney). We also provide transplants to babies, older people, patients with difficult diseases and those who need retransplantation.