Kidney Transplant


When your kidneys fail, you need one of two treatments to stay alive: a kidney transplant or dialysis (either peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis).

A kidney transplant improves life expectancy compared with dialysis. It also improves the quality of life.

At OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, we perform transplants with kidneys donated by living donors, as well as transplants using kidneys from deceased donors.

By Your Side Through It All

Through years of experience, we’ve put together a transplant care team that helps patients deal with every aspect of the transplant process from beginning to end.

The comprehensive care team includes:

  • Transplant nephrologist collaborates with the transplant surgeons and team to carefully evaluate and manage transplant candidates, recipients, and living donors. The transplant nephrologist specializes in the management of immunosuppressive therapy.
  • Transplant nurse coordinators facilitate all phases of the transplant process. Their responsibilities include evaluating transplant candidates and potential living donors, educating patients and families about what to expect and coordinating post-transplant follow-up.
  • Financial coordinators help you navigate things like insurance coverage and develop a financial plan.
  • Dietitians help support the health of you and your new kidney with proper nutrition.
  • Social workers help you deal with an emotional or mental health stressors.

In addition, a host of expert-trained nurses, surgeons and all the other excellent health professionals are available to serve your needs as you recover in one of the leading hospitals in downstate Illinois, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

Location Matters

Follow-up care can be very intensive, requiring multiple blood tests every week for several weeks.

Having a care option in Peoria provides people in central Illinois with a more convenient option than having to go to Chicago or somewhere else for this care.

Being close to home allows you to be closer to your personal support system of friends and family.

When is the Best Time to Explore a Kidney Transplant?

It is best to explore transplant early in your disease course, before you need to start dialysis.

This way, you might be able to get a transplant ‘pre-emptively,’ without ever needing to start dialysis.

If you are not yet on dialysis and have a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of 20 or less, you can already begin building “wait time” on the deceased donor transplant list.

Get Started

Kidney transplants require a referral.

Patients may be referred to OSF Saint Francis Transplant Services for consideration by their nephrologist, dialysis center or by self-referral. Early referral is important.

To get started, please complete our online referral form.

Upon receiving a referral, each transplant candidate is reviewed and evaluated on an individual basis.

Our team considers your medical condition, support system for the early post-transplant period, and adherence to your medical regimen. We need to determine if you are healthy enough for the transplant surgery, to tolerate the immunosuppressive and other medications, and are able to comply with medications and monitoring long term.

Selection Committee

Our multidisciplinary team reviews each patient’s details prior to deciding whether to approve him/her for kidney transplant and placing on the waitlist, or considering a live donor transplant.

The committee consists of the transplant surgeon, transplant nephrologist, transplant coordinator, pharmacist, financial coordinator, social worker, dietitian, and other providers pertinent to the patient’s transplant workup.


The transplant coordinator will let you know when you are listed on the national waitlist.

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) manages the list of all the people across the US waiting for an organ transplant. UNOS ensures that deceased donor organs are distributed fairly using a transparent system.

Deceased donor kidneys are allocated based on a number of factors, including wait time, years on dialysis, blood type, kidney quality, how far away the donor hospital is , and a few other factors, such as being a child or a previous kidney donor.

While on the waitlist, open communication with your transplant team is a necessity. The team needs to be aware if you become sick, hospitalized, require a blood transfusion or go out of town.

It is important that the transplant coordinator is able to contact you when you when an organ offer comes up. This call can happen day or night. Please make sure the transplant office has your current phone contact information.

Preparing for Transplant Surgery


Having the opportunity to receive a kidney transplant in Peoria helps provide those in Central Illinois with a convenient option rather than going to a larger city, such as Chicago.

Don't Rush Your Recovery

One important aspect of kidney transplants is the follow-up care needed after. It can be very intense, and transplant can be hard work.

It is important to know that you may not return to a “normal lifestyle” right away. It requires time and patience, and it may be several months before you have a good understanding of how to manage your treatment.

Appointments & Medications

Compliance with treatment, medications, and follow-up is extremely important.

You will be started on various new medicines that you will be required to take on a very specific schedule. Follow-up appointments and timed blood tests will be required multiple days a week for several weeks after transplant.

Personal Support

It is imperative to have good personal support and transportation to help you get to and from frequent blood draws and appointments. There is potential for financial burdens after transplant as well.

Our Team is Here for You

At OSF Saint Francis, you are treated with compassion, and you have comprehensive health services at your fingertips, from evaluation to surgery to recovery.

After the transplant, our multi-disciplinary transplant team will continue to help with any needs you may have.

About the Surgery

How long will the transplant surgery take?

A kidney transplant operation can take between 2 and 5 hours.

A combined kidney and pancreas transplant operation can take between 4 and 7 hours.

How long will I be in the hospital after surgery?
A typical patient will recover in the hospital for 3-5 days. Should any complications arise, this stay will be extended at the advice of your surgeon.
Will I be in a lot of pain after the surgery?

A typical patient will have mild to moderate pain at the incision site.

Your pain will be controlled with a pain pump that you can control from the first 2-3 days after your surgery, you will then receive a pain pill (narcotic) to take the duration of your hospital stay.

You will be discharged home with a pain pill, you may need this pain pill for approximately 2 weeks, then it is advised to transition to Acetaminophen for discomfort.

Billing & Insurance

Will my insurance company pay for my transplant?

Most insurance carriers, including Medicare and Medicaid, pay for kidney transplants.

If Medicare is your primary insurer, your transplant must be at a Medicare-approved center. OSF Saint Francis Medical Center is a Medicare-approved center for an organ transplant.

Most transplant patients are eligible for Medicare if they suffer from end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and can apply at the transplant time.

The benefits are backdated to the first of the month the transplant was received. Medicare may be the primary insurer or secondary based on the “Coordination of Benefits” ruling.

If you would like additional information, you may download a copy of the official government booklet Medicare Coverage of Kidney Dialysis and Kidney Transplant Services.

How will I pay for my prescription and non-prescription medications?

This is one of the most important questions that you will need to answer before transplant.

If you cannot get your prescription medications after your transplant, your transplant will most likely fail.

If you have Medicare at the time of the transplant and Medicare is primary, your immunosuppressive drugs will be covered at 80% under Medicare B.

You will be responsible for the remaining 20% copay if you do not have a Medicare supplemental policy in effect. Even if you have a prescription plan, it may not cover your medications at 100%.

Out-of-pocket costs for prescription medications can be over $500 for the first few months post-transplant and continue from $200 to $500 for the transplant life.

Assistance may be available through pharmaceutical companies, Extra Help through Social Security LIS or several transplant-specific funding sources.

The financial coordinator and the social worker will discuss the options available to you in more detail when meeting with you.

What if my insurance changes?

If your insurance changes, you must notify the financial coordinator immediately. The transplant center will need to get approval from your insurance plan before your transplant.

If you change insurance and do not tell us, we may not get the required authorization. Without proper consent, the insurance company may deny payment for the transplant and all of your aftercare.

Are there any hidden costs I should be aware of?

There are some ‘hidden’ costs that you need to be aware of. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Transportation to and from the transplant center before and after the transplant
  • Food and lodging for you and your family
  • Lost wages
  • Childcare

Reminder: Medicare coverage, based on end-stage renal disease, ends three years post-transplant.


How long will I be off work?
A typical patient should plan to be off work for 6 to 8 weeks after transplant.
When can I drive?
A typical patient may resume driving 3 weeks after transplant, depending on several factors.
How often will I need to come to Peoria for follow up after the transplant?

A typical patient is expected to get transplant standing labs twice a week at OSF Saint Francis outpatient lab in Peoria for 4-8 weeks, or until your lab work is “stable”.

You will be seen in the OSF Transplant office 1-2 times a week by the transplant physician or post-transplant coordinator, for up to 4-8 week.

Will I be on a restricted diet?

A typical patient is not on any dietary restrictions after transplant. Unless you are diabetic, then follow all guidelines related to diabetes.

You will be advised to maintain a healthy, balanced diet daily. This will include ingesting salt and sugar in moderation.

You will be advised to drink 64-80 ounces of water a day. Staying well hydrated and eating healthy will be important.

How many new medications will I be taking?

A typical patient will be starting out with 7-9 new medications.

Three to five of those new medications will be discontinued after 3-6 months and 4 of those will remain for the life of your function organ(s).

There is a possibility that some medications you currently take, will not be continued after transplant.

What will happen if my kidney transplant fails?
If they kidney ever fails, you can have dialysis or consider another kidney transplant.