Experience can make all the difference when you are in need of a transplant. If you have a condition like chronic kidney disease, end-stage kidney disease (often called kidney failure) or Type I diabetes mellitus, the experts at University of Florida Health Shands Transplant Center provide hope and life-saving care.
Our center has over 50 years’ experience performing kidney transplants — completing the first one in the state of Florida in 1966. We were also the first in Florida to perform a simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant in 1995. Our center is certified by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and Children’s Medical Services.
With our multidisciplinary approach to care, several team members with complementary skills work together to provide you with the best care possible. While other centers may follow a kidney or pancreas transplant patient for several months after surgery, at UF Health, we like to continue to work with your home physicians and follow you for life.
The UF Health difference
At UF Health Shands Transplant Center, we take pride in our vast experience and expertise, successful outcomes, and our ability to remain on the leading edge of research.
- Experience. We have more than five decades’ experience performing kidney transplants. In addition to UF Health performing the first kidney transplant in Florida in 1966 and the first simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant in 1995, we also performed the first living donor transplant in 1969 and the first pediatric kidney transplant in 1966.
- Expertise. Our center has performed more than 4,800 kidney transplants and over 250 pancreas transplants. Our collaborative approach to patient care combines the expertise of our transplant physicians, transplant surgeons, nurse coordinators, transplant assistants, social workers, financial counselors, transplant pharmacists, immunogeneticists, anesthesiologists, intensivists, dietitians and psychologists.
- Excellence. The rate of transplant at UF Health Shands Transplant Center is significantly higher than the national average, meaning you experience the benefits of receiving a transplant sooner. Within one year, 19.4% of people on our waiting list have received a transplant, compared with 10% of those on transplant waiting lists across the country (Source: Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients).
Kidney transplant services
Our kidney transplant team delivers a customized approach to your care. We work together to examine thoroughly each patient, and develop an individualized treatment plan based on your needs.
The UF Health Shands team will follow you closely as you await transplant and after your transplant, which helps improve patient outcomes. While waiting for an organ, you will receive a thorough yearly examination with some updated testing. This is because kidneys can become available at any moment, day or night, and you need to be physically ready for surgery at short notice.
Kidney transplant surgery
During surgery, the donated kidney will be attached to the blood vessels in the lower part of your abdomen. Your surgeon will also attach the ureter (tube that drains the urine from the kidney) to your bladder.
You can expect to be in the hospital for several days to a week following a kidney transplant if all goes well with you, and the donated kidney is starting to function. You will take anti-rejection medications to lessen the risk of rejection and so that your donated kidney is more likely to function properly. You will focus on recovery and learning about your new organ. Daily labs, urine production and daily weights are monitored to assist the team with adjusting your new transplant medications.
Pancreas transplant services
Pancreas transplant is one option available for some people with Type I diabetes mellitus. A successful pancreas transplant can stop your dependency on insulin for several years, and help you return to a more normal life. There are three types of pancreas transplants:
- Simultaneous pancreas and kidney. This may be an option if you have both diabetes and end-stage renal disease, and you are in otherwise good health.
- Pancreas after kidney. This may be an option if you have already received a kidney transplant and have diabetes. It is also very practical if you have a living donor who is willing to give you a kidney now. This way, you can have a pancreas transplant when you are healthier, after your kidney failure has been treated.
- Isolated pancreas only. This may be an option if you have Type I diabetes mellitus that is difficult for you to manage, and you have good kidney function without any renal disease.
While pancreas transplant is less common in people with Type II diabetes mellitus, some people with Type II diabetes who are young, have a low BMI and require low amounts of insulin may qualify for a pancreas transplant.
Pancreas transplant surgery
During transplant surgery, your donated pancreas will be placed in the lower abdomen and connected to large blood vessels and the intestines (or sometimes the bladder). All pancreas transplant operations require that the incision is made in the middle of the lower half of the abdomen. If you are receiving a kidney/pancreas transplant, both organs will be placed in the lower/middle abdomen, most often one on each side.
Pancreas recipients usually stay in the hospital for seven to 10 days due to your intestines taking more time to wake up and function after this operation. During this time, you will be recovering and learning about your new organ(s). Daily labs help the team manage the transplant medication doses. You will also be given information on how to care for your new organ and live a healthy life.
Watch patient story videos to learn more about what it’s like being a kidney transplant patient at UF Health.
To learn more about our kidney or pancreas transplant services, contact 352.265.0254.