Kidney Transplant Process

At Henry Ford, we understand that you and your loved ones may have concerns about your upcoming transplant surgery and recovery. Your kidney transplant coordinator is there for you through each step of the process.

You can talk to your transplant coordinator anytime you have questions or concerns. We want you to feel confident about your decision so you can focus on what really matters: becoming better.

Waiting for a kidney transplant

If you have someone willing to donate a kidney, you could receive a transplant as quickly as 1 to 2 months. If you do not have someone who can donate a kidney or cannot find a good match among family and friends, your transplant team will place you on the national transplant waitlist.

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) manages this list and matches those who need kidneys with deceased donors throughout the Midwest and across the nation. Your transplant coordinator will notify you when a donor kidney becomes available.

Factors affecting your kidney transplant wait

The wait time for a kidney transplant may last months or even years. Factors that affect the time it takes include your:

  • Health
  • Blood type
  • Body size

Learn more about Henry Ford’s kidney transplant outcomes.

Receiving a kidney transplant

During the kidney transplant process, you can expect certain steps, including:

  • You are in the skilled hands of a kidney transplant surgeon for 2 to 3 hours. A combined pancreas and kidney transplant surgery may take twice as long.
  • After surgery, you recover in our specialized transplant recovery unit. This unit has filtered air to protect against infection and is staffed by a medical team with special expertise in transplant care.
  • Your hospital stay depends on your donor. Kidneys from living donors tend to work immediately. If your kidney comes from a deceased donor, you may need dialysis until the kidney starts working.
  • While in the hospital, you meet with one of our knowledgeable transplant pharmacists and start taking transplant medications. You need to take immunosuppressants for life. These medicines keep your body from rejecting the donated kidney.
  • After you leave the hospital, you may choose to receive follow-up care, including ongoing blood work and exams, at one of our convenient kidney transplant clinics.

Resources for transplant patients and caregivers

The caring staff at Guest Services can help you and your loved ones with travel arrangements, lodging and other services. Learn more about our resources.

Take the next step

Speak with a Transplant Institute specialist.