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UCLA Transplantation Services


Pediatric Kidney Transplant

Pediatric Kidney Transplantation at UCLA

UCLA Medical Plaza UCLA Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program offers one of the highest transplant success rates nationwide

The UCLA Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program is one of the most active, successful programs of its kind in the United States. It is world-famous for providing comprehensive clinical care, robust research, and expertise in successfully meeting all of the challenges facing children with end-stage renal disease. Annually, UCLA pediatric renal specialists perform 25 to 35 kidney transplants. Since the program's founding in 1980, more than 800 children and adolescents from across the nation and worldwide have received kidney transplants at UCLA.

The Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program is consistently a national leader in transplantation, based upon both volume and survival rates. It has one of the highest three-year graft and patient survival rates of 95 percent and 100 percent, respectively. These rates are markedly above the national averages of 88 percent and 98 percent, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, a national database of transplant statistics.

Innovative approaches to transplantation

The Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program is one of the few pediatric centers nationwide to offer kidney exchanges. Starting in 2008, UCLA's pioneering Kidney Exchange Program gives children and adults unable to receive a kidney from a loved one or friend the opportunity to still receive a living donor organ through an exchange between incompatible donor-recipient pairs.

Additionally, some living donor transplants are possible even if they involve blood group (ABO)-or Tissue Antigen (HLA) incompatible pairs. UCLA pediatric renal specialists are experts in "desensitizing," a process that lowers antibody levels in the recipient's blood prior to transplant to reduce the risk of organ rejection even in the case of incompatible donors and recipients. The result is a broader donor pool, better-matched organs, and potentially shorter wait time for a transplant.

Providing added strength to the program is UCLA's renowned Immunogenetics Center, a World Health Organization reference laboratory for HLA typing and crossmatch testing. The lab's expert analysis increases the odds of successful tissue and organ transplants.

Specialists in child-specific issues

Children with kidney failure confront issues that adults don't encounter. UCLA pediatric specialists focus on the comprehensive needs of each child and their family, including growth optimization, brain development, post-transplant care and psychosocial support. Often, UCLA's Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program successfully transplants difficult cases other centers have declined. These include recipients requiring extensive bladder reconstruction and those with recurrent diseases, such as atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which causes abnormal blood clots to form in small blood vessels of the kidneys, and focal segmental glomelular scelerosis, which attacks the kidney's filtering system, causing scarring.

In addition, the program performs multi-organ transplants, including multi-visceral transplants (three or more abdominal organs), along with heart-kidney and liver-kidney transplants for rare metabolic and genetic disorders such as oxalosis.

A multi-disciplinary transplant team is equipped to meet the needs of every child at each stage of development. In addition to pediatric nephrologists and transplant surgeons, the team includes specialists in Child Life, education, social work, nutrition, psychology and psychiatry, pathology, pharmacology, and transplant nursing coordination. The program also offers patient support groups and a buddy system that matches new transplant patients with children and teens living a successful post-transplant life. In partnership with UCLA's Adult Kidney Transplant Program, pediatric team members have developed a strong transition program to help children seamlessly move to adult nephrology care as they turn 21.

Research optimizes outcomes for end-stage renal disease

Members of the Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program pursue wide-ranging research projects to optimize kidney transplant outcomes in children with end-stage renal disease. Researchers are testing less-toxic medications, including steroid-free immunosuppressive medications. Steroids carry potential undesirable side effects such as weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. UCLA specialists are also searching for molecular biomarkers that could serve as diagnostic tools and possibly signal those patients at a higher risk for organ rejection, enabling early intervention.

One primary focus of research is on psychosocial issues affecting children and teens, which can result in non-adherence with immunosuppressive medication regimens. "Non-adherence, especially among teenagers, is a major contributor to post-transplant organ failure," says Eileen Tsai, MD, Director of the Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program and assistant professor of pediatrics. "We are exploring ways to encourage better adherence and post-transplant well-being."

Our Expert Team

Pediatric Kidney Transplant Team

Contact us

Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program: (310) 267-6929

Patient and Family Resources

pdf file downloadWhat every kid needs to know

How to Schedule Your Evaluation Appointment at UCLA

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How is my child's care coordinated between Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and my child’s kidney doctor?
  2. What happens at the evaluation appointment?
  3. What are my transplant options?
  4. How do I prepare for transplantation?
  5. How long will my child be in the hospital?
  6. Who will take care of my child’s health needs after discharge?

Pediatric Kidney Transplant Donor Forms

pdf file downloadDonor Information

pdf file downloadDonor Information(Spanish)

pdf file downloadDonor Intake

pdf file downloadDonor Intake Spanish

pdf file downloadDischarge Info for Kidney Living Donors


The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) provides a toll-free patient services lines to help transplant candidates, recipients, and family members understand organ allocation practices and transplantation data. You may also call this number to discuss problems you may be experiencing with your transplant center or the transplantation system in general. The toll-free patient services line number is 1-888-894-6361

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