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Paediatric Kidney Transplants: Special Considerations for Young Recipients

Paediatric Kidney Transplants: Special Considerations for Young Recipients

 In India, more than 7,500 kidney transplant procedures take place every year. Worldwide, the number is more than 42,800. In terms of paediatric kidney transplants, the number is more than 1,300 which is huge. With such a huge number of transplants taking place every year, parents and guardians must consider some special steps to avoid any risk or harm. 

Kidney transplant in children has given hope to several parents across the world. It simply represents the advancement in the medical science field. But with every positive step, comes the consideration of its own unique challenges and difficulties. Moreover, the recipients being young and delicate, special care should be taken before, during and after the process.

Although the procedure is very similar to kidney transplants in adults, there are some distinct differences. Similarly, an infant kidney transplant is even more different from that of adults and young children. But due to these differences being minor, people often neglect them. This later results in severe consequences.

Before we understand and learn about special considerations, let us know about paediatric kidney transplants. Let us understand the evaluation process and then finely learn about taking care of the child. A comprehensive understanding always helps in achieving better outcomes than a shallow one. So, read ahead to enlighten yourself with paediatric kidney transplants and its special considerations. 

Understanding Paediatric Kidney Transplants

Paediatric kidney transplants are complex surgical procedures. Resultantly, they can be tough to understand. A child’s damaged or dysfunctional kidney is replaced with a healthy one in this process. Here is a step-by-step understanding of the process-

  • Evaluation:

The first step to paediatric kidney transplants is to medically evaluate the child going for the surgery. It is to determine and conclude whether the child is suitable for the medical process. This may include checking overall health, functioning of kidneys and any possible medical condition. 

  • Finding a suitable donor:

The second step to paediatric kidney transplants is to seek a suitable kidney donor. Usually, a living donor is preferred over a deceased one. Compatibility of the donor is checked with factors like blood type and tissue matching. 

  • Pre-transplant preparation:

The child here undergoes extensive pre-transplant testing which includes blood tests, imaging and cardiac evaluations. This is majorly to ensure that they are ready for surgery.

  • Surgery:

The transplant surgery involves implanting the healthy donor kidney. The surgeon connects the new kidney's blood vessels and ureters to the child's blood vessels and bladder. Unless there is a special situation (infection, tumour, anatomical issues) damaged kidney need not be covered.

  • Post-transplant care:

After the transplantation process, the child is closely observed and monitored. This is to ensure the new kidney is functioning properly.

  • Immunosuppression:

Here an assurance of lifelong immunosuppressive medications is made. To prevent rejection of the transplanted kidney, the child will need them.

  • Monitoring: 

Regular follow-up appointments and monitoring is done to assure positive kidney function, adjustment of medicines and more.

Now the question arises, what makes kidney transplant in children different than adults? Well, paediatric kidney transplants in children differ from adult transplants due to the unique challenges of smaller body sizes and growth considerations. Donor selection, surgical techniques, and lifelong management must all be tailored to a child's specific needs and long-term development. 

Infant Kidney Transplants and Special Considerations

Now, infant kidney transplants require some special considerations like-

  • Size and growth: 

Infants are very small and continue to grow. Therefore, selecting an appropriate kidney size is extremely important. It is crucial for long-term functioning of the organ.

  • Immature immune system:

Infants have less developed immune systems. Therefore, they require tailored immunosuppression regimens to prevent rejection.

  • Nutritional requirements:

Meeting the nutritional needs of growing infants is important for their overall health and well-being.

  • Cognitive and growing impact: 

Medications and the transplant experience can affect infant development. Therefore, they have to be considered properly as well. 

The surgical process of infant kidney transplants include nephrectomy. In this the removal of diseased kidney is done. The process can be very complicated in infants due to their size. 

Secondly, implantation is done after nephrectomy where delicate and soft surgical techniques are used. This is to attach the donor kidney's blood vessels and ureter to the infant's.

Lastly, minimal invasive procedures are considered to minimise scarring and recovery time in some cases. After all these steps, medical professionals head for post-operative care and management. 

Post Kidney Transplant Care for Infants and Young Recipients

Post-transplant care for young recipients including infants is critical and an ongoing process. It is to assure the success of the surgery as well as the well-being of the child. Below is a step-by-step information of it-

  • The management of immunosuppression is done at first:

Young recipients require a carefully tailored immunosuppressive regimen to prevent their immune system from rejecting the transplanted kidney. Medications like corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors and antiproliferative agents are administered with specific dosages. 

  • Monitoring of growth and development is done:

Since infants are in a phase of rapid growth and development, it is important to closely monitor their physical and cognitive progress.

  • Infection risk is assessed:

Young recipients are more prone to infections. This is due to their immature immune system. Vigilant infection control measures and prompt treatment of any infections are executed to safeguard their health.

  • Nutritional support is given:

Meeting the nutritional needs of growing infants is important. Dieticians work with caregivers to assure the child receives adequate nutrients and calories for proper development.

  • Psychological support is given:

Both the child and their family may experience emotional and psychological challenges. Support services and counselling are often provided to help families navigate the complexities of the surgery. 

  • Long-term follow-up is assured: 

Paediatric kidney transplant recipients require lifelong medical supervision. Regular follow-up visits to assure good kidney function, monitor medication side effects and more is executed.

Discipline is the most important factor in the success of a young recipient’s surgery. With disciplined care, support and management, children come out of the situation really well. 


Paediatric kidney transplants are difficult medical procedures. The more difficult is to suit the surgery requirements and match the compatibility factors. Special considerations like the size of the recipient, immune system and more must be undertaken. 

Dr. Dinesh Bansal
Renal Care
Meet The Doctor
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