Pediatric Abdominal Transplant Center Offers Care Close to Home for Central Texans in Need

UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center partner to offer comprehensive pediatric abdominal transplant services

Reviewed by: Nicole Turgeon, MD, FACS
Written by: Ashley Lawrence

A physician wearing a white coat smiles as she gestures at a patient with her hands.  They are seated across from one another in a consultation room with blue walls and natural light filtering through.

UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center are excited to announce the opening of the Pediatric Abdominal Transplant Center, a clinical partnership between Dell Children’s Medical Center and UT Health Austin that brings specialized teams across healthcare entities together under the mission of transforming healthcare delivery and redesigning the academic health environment to better serve society.

This announcement comes 5 months after the announcement about the opening of the Abdominal Transplant Center, a clinical partnership between Ascension Seton and UT Health Austin, and just 6 weeks after the Abdominal Transplant Center’s first kidney transplant surgery and altruistic donor surgery, both of which took place in the same week.

Pediatric transplant care for chronic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease is a lifelong condition in which the gradual loss of kidney function occurs over time. End-stage kidney disease, or kidney failure, occurs when the kidneys can no longer function at a level needed for daily life. Treatment options for kidney failure include dialysis, a procedure during which a machine takes over the function of the kidneys by removing the waste products and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys stop working properly, and transplantation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 10,000 children and adolescents in the United States are living with end-stage renal disease and currently rely on life-saving dialysis or are in need of a kidney transplant.

The Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program is a specialty program within the Pediatric Abdominal Transplant Center that provides comprehensive care for children and adolescents with chronic kidney disease or end-stage renal disease. The Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program care team is comprised of highly specialized transplant providers who work with patients and their families to develop individualized treatment plans, using a combination of research-proven methodologies, such as specialized procedures and new medicines to prevent organ rejection, with the overall goal of increasing the patient’s quality and longevity of life. For patients who meet candidacy for kidney transplantation, their surgery will take place at Dell Children’s Medical Center.

Hope for the Central Texas community

“With the launch of our Pediatric Abdominal Transplant Center, children and young adults in Central Texas will no longer have to leave their homes, families, or communities for kidney transplant care,” says UT Health Austin abdominal transplant surgeon Nicole Turgeon, MD, FACS, who serves as the Transplant Director for both the Abdominal Transplant Center and the Pediatric Abdominal Transplant Center. “The new program represents a unique strategic collaboration across Dell Children’s Medical Center, Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, and UT Health Austin, building on the adult Abdominal Transplant Center to provide seamless kidney transplant care for patients of all ages, from newborns to adults.”

The Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program utilizes two types of transplant donor sources for patients, living organ donors and deceased, or brain-dead, organ donors. Transplanting a kidney from a healthy donor into a recipient patient with kidney failure is called a living donation. Living kidney donations can come from a compatible donor who is related or unrelated to the recipient patient. Through the Living Kidney Donor Program, a specialty program within the Abdominal Transplant Center, patients have the option to participate in a paired kidney exchange program. In paired donation, an incompatible donor and recipient pair is matched with another incompatible donor and recipient pair and the kidneys are exchanged between the pairs as a “swap.” This allows the donors to provide two or more patients with healthy kidneys when previously no transplant would have been possible. The average wait time for a transplant through the paired donor kidney exchange program is approximately four months.

Only one donated kidney is needed to replace two failed kidneys, and it is possible to live a healthy life with one kidney, which makes living-donor kidney transplantation an alternative to deceased-donor kidney transplantation. If a living donor isn’t available for a patient, their name will be placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) kidney transplant waitlist to receive a kidney from a deceased donor. While the average wait time for a deceased-donor kidney for an adult patient is approximately 4-5 years and increasing with time, pediatric patients typically experience a shorter wait time, as they receive higher priority on the waitlist.

If you are interested in being considered for living kidney donation, please complete the online medical screening questionnaire.

“We’re pleased to provide critical pediatric kidney care to children in Central Texas and build centers of excellence providing industry-leading medical care and expertise,” says Christopher Born, MBA, who serves as the President of Dell Children’s Medical Center. “Our multidisciplinary team of dedicated, skilled specialists at the Pediatric Abdominal Transplant Center will deliver personalized care that best fits each child and their unique healthcare needs.”

Adult kidney transplant services are available to patients 18 years of age and older through the Abdominal Transplant Center. The Abdominal Transplant Center will also offer services for patients in need of a pancreas transplant and those who may need a simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant later this year. The Abdominal Transplant Center hopes to develop a liver program in the next 3-5 years. Patients in need of a pancreas or liver transplant currently have to travel to San Antonio, Houston, or Dallas to receive care.

For more information about the Abdominal Transplant Center or to make an appointment, please call 1-512-324-7930 or visit here.

For more information about the Pediatric Abdominal Transplant Center or to make an appointment, call 1-512-324-0070 or visit here.

About the Partnership Between UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center

The collaboration between UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center brings together medical professionals, medical school learners, and researchers who are all part of the integrated mission of transforming healthcare delivery and redesigning the academic health environment to better serve society. This collaboration allows highly specialized providers who are at the forefront of the latest research, diagnostic, and technological developments to build an integrated system of care that is a collaborative resource for clinicians and their patients.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.