Nationally recognized in kidney and living donor transplant
Houston Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center operates one of the nation’s largest and longest standing kidney transplant programs, performing more than 200 transplants annually. With more than 55 years as a national leader — Dr. Michael E. DeBakey performed our first in 1963 — we believe in and practice excellence.
As chronic kidney disease continues to rise in the United States, we remain dedicated to increasing the kidney donor pool, shortening wait times, and steadfastly producing the best outcomes for our patients. “It’s what keeps you going,” said A. Osama Gaber, MD, distinguished chair and director of the transplant center. “Our patients are amazingly grateful. We build lifelong relationships, and we’re really involved in their lives.”
Our kidney transplant team includes surgeons, doctors, pathologists, nurses and other health care professionals who manage each patient’s case from evaluation through transplant and life after.
Offering hope to kidney failure patients, even before dialysis
At Houston Methodist, we are committed to doing everything possible to get patients the lifesaving kidney transplants they need.
Living donor transplant is the first line treatment for kidney failure. At Houston Methodist, we actively encourage all patients to identify living donors. A safe procedure for the donor, living donor transplant patients can be transplanted quickest and with the best outcomes.
We help patients get transplanted with a living donor before they need dialysis, called pre-emptive transplant. Pre-emptive transplant helps patients avoid life-altering dialysis and health declines. While dialysis can provide lifesaving support, transplant is the best option long-term, and adds years and quality to life. At Houston Methodist, pre-emptive patients undergo expedited evaluation, allowing them to get transplanted as quickly as possible.
We maximize the number of lives saved through multiple paired donation programs, in which a willing living donor can initiate a chain, or series of “swaps,” allowing patients who don’t have a matching living donor to get a transplant.
Some patients, particularly women, develop antibodies throughout their lives that limit their ability to receive a transplant because of a high rejection risk. We offer multiple options for desensitization — medical therapies that help lower the risk and improve the chances for successful transplant.
We are charting the future of kidney transplant through advanced research, with a primary focus on finding different approaches to prevent organ rejection. We are investigating new, less toxic forms of immunosuppression and how a patient’s own stem cells may help reduce the need for life-long medications.
Who can benefit from kidney transplant
The best candidates for kidney transplant are those with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) who will soon need or currently receive dialysis. CKD develops when the kidneys lose the ability to filter waste from the blood. The following conditions may lead to CKD and, eventually, kidney failure.
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Immune system diseases, like lupus
- Genetic illnesses, such as polycystic kidney disease
Life after kidney transplant
Following transplant, patients start producing urine almost immediately – some while still in the operating room — and do not require dialysis. Compared to dialysis, most patients feel that a successful kidney transplant allows greater freedom, increased energy levels and a less restrictive diet.
While several medications are required for the first several months, patients only need two to three medications a day long term. Patients return to their normal lives, keeping as healthy as possible and living their best lives.