A kidney transplant is a treatment available for some patients with end stage kidney failure. A kidney donated by either a deceased donor or a living kidney donor is surgically implanted into the recipient (patient receiving the transplant) at our local transplant hospitals in Southmead Hospital in Bristol and Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. Patients are then transferred back to our transplant clinic at the Exeter Kidney Unit for all follow-up care.
If suitable, some people choose to have a kidney transplant because it offers more freedom and a better quality of life than dialysis (another form of treatment for end stage kidney failure). The majority of transplant kidneys work successfully, allowing the patient to return to a near normal life.
Alongside the kidney transplant service at the RD&E, we provide living kidney donor assessment for those people who come forward as potential living kidney donors for their relatives and friends. We are also here to accommodate altruistic living kidney donors who wish to donate a kidney to an anonymous recipient on the waiting list.
Information and about us
Patients who receive a kidney transplant will need lifelong follow up care. Many factors have to be monitored regularly, including:
- General well being
- Blood tests to measure kidney function and immunosuppression medication
- Blood pressure
- Urine tests
Although the majority of kidney transplants are successful, a few have complications. Rejection of the transplanted kidney can occur at any point, so it is important that we see our transplant patients regularly. Initially, patients need to be reviewed several times a week so that complications can be detected early and dealt with. Over time and once the transplanted kidney function remains stable, clinic visits become less frequent. Eventually, patients can be seen every four months as an outpatient.
Where to find us
Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford)
Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford)
The Renal Day Case Unit, Renal Unit, Level 2
The majority of our transplant patients live a near-to-normal life in the community. However, health or life issues might arise that affect their kidney transplant. We are here to offer advice and support. We liaise with GP practices and other hospitals in the area and nationwide to help co-ordinate care for our transplant population.
In the South West, children undergo kidney transplant operations at Bristol Children's Hospital (BCH). The Exeter Kidney Unit (EKU) does not provide care for paediatric patients. Dr Bingham, one of our kidney consultants, provides a link with BCH. Young adult transplant patients are transitioned to adult care when they are around 18 years old, with the assistance of the EKU’s young adult worker.
We provide various clinics for our donor/patient group. We try to be flexible for living kidney donors (LKD) so that they can have some appointments outside of their working hours. We have instigated a fast track LKD clinic to help speed up donor assessment and provide one appointment a week.
The majority of our transplant patients are seen face to face in planned clinics on a four monthly basis.
We also have an established a telephone transplant clinic (with the help of our patients' GPs). This gives our patients more choice and freedom.
Meet the team
The renal (kidney) transplant team at the RD&E consists of medical and nursing staff alongside other members of the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) such as a dietician, pharmacist and secretarial support.
Lead consultant for renal transplant
Dr Jason Moore. He is one of nine consultants who review potential living kidney donors and transplanted patients within the RD&E.
Nursing transplant team
As a team, the nursing staff co-ordinate care for patients with new transplants, are a point of contact for all transplant patients within our geographical area, assist with the education and assessment for transplantation, are a support for other MDT members and provide the assessment and support for potential living kidney donors. We see patients within a clinic setting and within our Renal Day Case Unit. We also perform telephone consultations for our patient group.
- Heather Atkins - Living Kidney Donor Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- Kerry Matthews - Living Kidney Donor CNS
- Karen Steer - Renal transplant CNS
- Elizabeth Boult - Renal transplant CNS
Services and treatments
Patients who have a kidney transplant need to take immunosuppression medication to make sure their transplanted kidney is working well. This type of medication reduces the effectiveness of the patient’s immune system. If not monitored regularly through blood tests and careful review by the transplant team at the RD&E, patients can be more at risk of experiencing frequent infections. In very rare situations, cancer may occur. Although there are risks, immunosuppression medication is very important. It helps to prevent rejection if taken regularly and is essential to make sure a transplanted kidney lasts for years.
The kidney transplant nursing team is a point of call for advice and support for the psychological and emotional needs of our patient group. We can advise patients to contact more specialist services, if required.
Charity Services Include:
Kidney Care UK
Improving life for kidney patients
Give a Kidney
Charity raising awareness of non-directed altruistic donation and supporting donors and potential donors through the process
Kidney Research UK
Charity funding research and raising awareness of kidney disease
- Email: email@example.com
- Helpline: 0300 303 1100
- Web: www.kidneyresearchuk.org and www.kidneyresearchuk.org/health-information
National Kidney Federation
Charity run by kidney patients for kidney patients
Patient information leaflets
We produce a wide range of leaflets which provide information about our services and about the treatment you might receive in our clinics or during your stay in hospital.
We also produce these in different formats including large print, please contact the department you are visiting for more information.
We have a wide range of videos which provide information about our services and about the treatment you might receive in our clinics or during your stay in hospital.
Information for healthcare professionals
Health professionals are welcome to contact the LKD and Transplant Nursing teams on the above telephone numbers and generic e-mail addresses.
You may also find the following guidelines and protocols useful in relation to Living Kidney Donation: