Pediatric Kidney Transplant: Frequently Asked Questions

Kidney Transplants in Children

My child may need a kidney transplant. Can I be a donor?

Many parents can donate a kidney to their child. But, sometimes parents aren't a good match.

You can get tested to see if you might be a match or take part in a kidney exchange.

How does my child get on the waiting list for a kidney transplant?

Our kidney transplant team must assess your child and approve placing them on the kidney transplant waiting list.

Even if you're trying to find a living kidney donor, we'll still assess your child and place them on the waiting list.

How long do children stay on the waiting list?

Some children spend very little time on the waiting list, and some never find a match.

Each kidney transplant depends on a few factors, such as blood type.

How many people are on the waiting list right now?

There are around 100,000 people in the U.S. on the kidney transplant waiting list on any given day.

Symptoms After Pediatric Kidney Transplant Surgery

What types of symptoms do I need to watch for after my child's transplant surgery?

Some symptoms to watch for after your child's kidney transplant are:

  • Fever
  • Pain near the transplant site
  • Decreased urine output, or change in color or smell of the urine
  • Swelling ankles, face, or hands
  • Simply feeling tired

Your post-kidney transplant education guide has a full list of symptoms.

I'm not sure if my child is sick. What should I do?

If at any time you're unsure if your child is sick, contact someone from your care team.

For urgent matters that occur after-hours, please call the kidney doctor on-call at 412-692-5325.

Medications and Vaccines After Pediatric Kidney Transplant Surgery

Can I give my child over-the-counter medicine after surgery?

Your child can have some over-the-counter meds post-transplant but must stay away from others.

Some OTC meds to avoid are:

  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines) such as ibuprofen
  • Decongestants
  • Herbal drugs

Check with your care team before giving your child any drugs not specifically mentioned in your post-kidney transplant guide.

What sorts of prescription medications will my child be taking?

Your child will take several prescription meds post-transplant to:

  • Help suppress the immune system to prevent rejection of the new kidney.
  • Protect against some viruses, bacteria, and fungal infections.
  • Guard against blood clots.

When can my child stop taking medications?

As a kidney transplant recipient, your child must take anti-rejection medications for the rest of their lives. They'll take other meds for different lengths of time.

Your care team can give you details on when your child can stop taking each medicine.

Be sure you always refill your child's prescriptions in time so you don't run out.

Can my child get regular vaccines after kidney transplant surgery?

Your child will be able to have some vaccines around six months after transplant, but not all. Vaccines that have live viruses aren't safe for transplant patients.

Your kidney transplant education guide has a section on vaccinations. But you should always ask your child's doctor about any scheduled shots or vaccines they need.

Finances After Transplant Surgery

I don't have enough vacation time or sick time to spend four weeks at the hospital after my child’s surgery. Do you offer any financial help?

Besides the surgery itself, the month after surgery is the most crucial time for your child. It's important that you stay in the Pittsburgh area so we can monitor your child and do follow-up testing.

Your social worker can give you details about financial assistance and other resources you may have access to during this time.

It’s vital to make a financial plan so your family can sustain itself for the month or so after your child's transplant.

At Home Post-Surgery

My child has a pet. Can they handle the pet after surgery?

After being away from home for a while, your child probably can't wait to see their pet. But, pets carry germs and diseases that can make your child sick because of their condition and medications.

Talk with your transplant coordinator about the pets in your home and what you should do to protect your child from illness.

Can my child have visitors once we are home?

Your child's friends and family members may want to visit your child after they return home.

Visitors should not be sick and should maintain proper hygiene (such as using hand sanitizer or washing their hands thoroughly) while visiting.

Keep in mind that your child may not feel like having visitors all the time. You should prepare to tell people if your child isn't up for a visit.

Contact the Kidney Transplant Program at UPMC Children's

If you have questions, concerns, or unexpected needs about your child's kidney transplant, contact our team at 412-692-5182.