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Kidney Transplant

Most people are born with two kidneys, located behind the abdominal organs and below the rib cage. They perform several important functions including:

  • Filtering blood to remove waste products, passing the waste from the body as urine and returning water and chemicals back to the body as necessary.
  • Regulating blood pressure by releasing several hormones.
  • Stimulating red blood cell production by releasing the hormone erythropoietin.

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that produce urine. Urine is carried to the bladder and when the bladder is full, urine is excreted from the bladder through the urethra.

When the kidneys stop working, the condition is referred to as "end-stage renal disease." Toxic waste products accumulate in the body and either dialysis or a kidney transplant is required to sustain life.

The most common causes of kidney failure include:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Severe defects of the urinary tract

During a kidney transplant evaluation, a transplant coordinator will arrange a series of tests to assess your treatment options. You'll be evaluated for potential medical problems such as heart disease, infections, bladder dysfunction, ulcer disease and obesity. A social worker will discuss transportation, housing, financial and family support needs in regard to a transplant and a financial counselor will address the benefits of your insurance policy.

We want you to learn as much as possible about the transplant process before making a decision.

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As kidneys become diseased, they lose their ability to function, a condition called end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or kidney failure. Treatments for kidney failure are hemodialysis, a mechanical process to clean the blood of waste products; peritoneal dialysis, in which toxins are removed by passing chemical solutions through the abdomen; and kidney transplant.

None of these options is a cure for kidney failure. But a transplant offers the best prospects, given that the transplanted kidney functions successfully.

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Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

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UCSF Clinics & Centers

Organ Transplant

Kidney Transplant Program
400 Parnassus Ave., Seventh Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 353-1551
Pre-Kidney Fax: (415) 353-8708
Post-Kidney Fax: (415) 353-8381
Appointment information

Pancreas Transplant
400 Parnassus Ave., Seventh Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 353-1551
Pre-Transplant Fax: (415) 353-8708
Post-Transplant Fax: (415) 353-4183
Appointment information

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