Kidney transplant center in Richmond, Virginia
Henrico Doctors’ Hospital is home to HCA Virginia’s Virginia Transplant Center. We specialize in kidney transplants, living kidney donations and paired exchange kidney transplants. In all cases, our transplant surgeons use advanced technology and innovative techniques to provide personalized, ongoing care for every kidney transplant patient.
For more information about Henrico Doctors' Hospital's kidney transplant program, please call Virginia Transplant Center at (804) 289-4941.
Your kidney transplant experts
At Virginia Transplant Center, kidney transplant referral patients average 90 days from referral to listing, which becomes lifesaving time for patients and families.
Our surgeons have extensive, experience performing successful kidney transplants. These specialists are supported by a team of nurse practitioners, registered nurses, transplant pharmacists, transplant dietitians and social workers. Together, they provide comprehensive care for our kidney transplant donors and recipients.
Virginia Transplant Center is open daily from 8:00am to 4:30pm. We also have transplant coordinators available 24 hours a day in case of emergencies.
Kidney transplant surgery process
Advances in transplant surgery have made kidney transplants a highly successful treatment option for patients with chronic kidney disease or renal failure. Below are the steps in the kidney transplant process.
The transplant process begins when your primary care physician or dialysis unit refers you to our kidney transplant clinic. You may also call us to refer yourself to our program.
Regardless of how you are referred to us, we will contact you via phone to determine if you may be a good candidate for a transplant. If you are deemed a good candidate, we will set up a consultation appointment.
Initial consultation appointment
During your initial consultation appointment, our team will perform a medical evaluation to determine the medical viability of your kidney transplant. You will meet with a social worker to evaluate your ability to cope with the transplant process and follow a rigorous treatment plan, both before and after the procedure.
At this point, a financial coordinator will also contact you to discuss the costs associated with your transplant and required post-transplant medications. They will help you understand costs that may not be covered by your health insurance provider.
If your initial appointment indicates you may be able to undergo a kidney transplant, a comprehensive medical evaluation will be scheduled.
Depending on your age and health condition, many different tests will be performed to determine if you are a suitable transplant recipient. You will meet with the transplant coordinator to receive information about the transplant evaluation process, the listing process and your responsibilities before and after transplant.
A transplant surgeon will meet with you to discuss the appropriateness of a transplant based on your medical evaluation results.
If it is determined that you are a transplant candidate, your surgeon will provide you with more detailed information about the transplant process, and you will be "listed" for transplant. This means you are added to the kidney transplant list and will be notified when a kidney becomes available for you.
Kidney transplant surgery
When a donor organ becomes available, you will be called and reevaluated for transplant suitability at that time. If appropriate, a blood test will be performed to determine if you are a match with the donor. If you are, you will be asked to come to the hospital for the transplant surgery.
During the surgery, you will receive anesthesia and be placed on a machine to help you breathe. Your surgeon will discuss the benefits and risks with you beforehand.
After the surgery, you will be taken to the transplant step-down or intensive care unit (ICU). You will experience some pain after surgery, which we will carefully monitor and control. Most transplant recipients have a significant reduction in pain the first week after surgery.
Your kidney transplant doctor will determine when you are medically able to go home from the hospital. Most patients stay in the hospital for approximately seven to 10 days post-surgery.
Recovery after kidney transplant surgery
After you leave the hospital, you will still be recovering and will have some restrictions on your daily activities for the next six weeks. You will need to be monitored on a long-term basis, and you must make yourself available for examinations, laboratory tests and scans to see how well your transplanted kidney is working.
If you do not live locally, a social worker will help you obtain local, affordable housing. This may be for a period of one to four weeks after your transplant or until your doctor determines you are medically able to go home.
Every effort is made to transition your care to your primary care provider, but our team will follow your progress throughout your life. Additionally, you will have regular check-ups with your doctors. This typically involves frequent lab work and a yearly visit to the transplant clinic.
Living kidney donations
Most people are born with two healthy kidneys but only need one to function. For this reason, a healthy person may choose to undergo surgery to donate a kidney to someone in need. This act is known as a "living kidney donation."
In these cases, we use minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, which offers a faster, less painful recovery, to remove the kidney from the living donor. Additionally, our transplant coordinator guides our living donors through the entire process, from evaluation and surgery through follow-up care.
Paired exchange kidney transplants
Sometimes, a willing living kidney donor is unable to give their kidney to a specific recipient, such as a friend or relative, because their blood types are incompatible. When that happens, we find another donor-recipient pair in the same situation and "swap" kidneys between the pairs. This is called a "paired exchange kidney transplant."
This is a specialized offering that helps those who are in need of kidneys receive them as quickly as possible. Virginia Transplant Center is proud to say we have more than five times the paired exchange kidney transplant experience than any other transplant center in Virginia.
Interested in becoming a living kidney donor?
Please watch this four-video series to learn more about kidney donation, including requirements for living donors and details about paired exchanges.
Benefits of living kidney donation
Living kidney donations offer many benefits to recipients, including:
- Kidney recipients may wait three to five years for a kidney from a deceased donor. Living kidney donation eliminates this prolonged waiting period.
- Living donor kidneys normally begin to function faster than kidneys from a deceased donor.
- Living kidney donation has been shown to have better acceptance rates and long-term outcomes for recipients.
- Our living donor transplant patients average six weeks from referral to listing, allowing the transplant to be arranged based on donor convenience.
Making the decision to be a living kidney donor
Although many people find living kidney donation to be a rewarding experience, your decision to donate is personal, unique and complex. Our Virginia Transplant Center team is here to answer your questions so you can make the best, most informed decision.
Meet our living donor coordinator
Melissa Van Syckle
Living donor coordinator
Melissa Van Syckle has over 20 years of nursing experience at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital. Her role as the living donor coordinator is to educate prospective living kidney donors and help them navigate the process of becoming a living donor. She also works with donor and recipient pairs through the National Kidney Registry’s paired exchange program, facilitating living donor swaps for pairs who may not be compatible with one another.
Melissa received her first Bachelor of Science from Old Dominion University, then returned to earn her Bachelor of Science in nursing. She served as a critical care nurse, caring for kidney transplant recipients at the bedside, before joining our transplant team in 2010.
The following external resources provide more insight into organ donation and the kidney transplant process: