Kidney Transplantation

Lurie Children’s (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital) performed Illinois’ first kidney transplant in a child in 1964. Our Pediatric Kidney Transplantation Program now ranks among the nation’s top kidney transplant programs dedicated to children. We perform the eighth highest number of pediatric kidney transplants in the country according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

Our expertise has led to outstanding survival rates. Nearly 91% our patients continue to respond well to their new kidney (graft) after three years. That’s well above the national average of 86.6% for graft survival.

The Lurie Children​’s Difference

We provide family-centered care, which means the entire family is involved in the patient’s treatment plan. We use a multidisciplinary team to plan your child’s treatment so that your child gets the most comprehensive care possible. Our team members are from various healthcare specialties, and they bring a variety of experiences to the program. They will all consider your child’s treatment and use their combined perspectives to create a holistic care plan that focuses on the whole person.

We focus on performing transplants as early as possible. About 30% of our kidney (renal) transplants are preemptive. Preemptive kidney transplant, which means doing a transplant before the patient becomes very ill and goes on kidney dialysis, has a number of benefits. It spares children the need for costly and time-consuming dialysis treatments, and it may lead to a quicker recovery after transplantation.

Preemptive transplants often need living donors, so we offer new solutions to the organ shortage. One option is donation from an unrelated donor (such as altruistic or paired kidney donation). Another choice is kidney desensitization, a process before and after transplant that removes harmful antibodies from the blood. This allows patients to receive a kidney that they otherwise would reject.

Thanks to our partnership with the Kidney Transplantation Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, we have easy access to services that adult living donors need. It also helps ease teen patients’ transition to adult care.

We actively conduct clinical and laboratory research to find new ways to help children who receive a kidney transplant. Lurie Children’s was the first in the Midwest to use a “prednisone-free protocol” for immune suppression after transplant to prevent organ rejection. By reducing the patient’s exposure to corticosteroids, this treatment lowers the risk of side effects that come with long-term steroid use, such as stunted growth and broken bones due to osteoporosis.

What to Expect

Lurie Children’s offers the full range of kidney transplant options, including:

Your child’s first visit may include:

  • A physical exam and a review of their health history
  • A psychosocial (mental and emotional health) assessment
  • Imaging and lab tests as needed
  • A financial needs assessment

After consulting each other, our transplant team will decide if a transplant is suitable for your child. If so, we’ll place your child on the transplant waiting list. Our team provides support and education through every step of the transplant process and beyond. If your child is not a candidate for transplant, we’ll offer other treatment options.


Our transplant team includes:

Our team members also work closely with healthcare providers in many other fields to address all of your child’s needs.

The physician leaders of our team each have more than 30 years of experience. The program’s medical director is Richard Cohn, MD, a board-certified pediatric nephrologist. Surgical director Riccardo Superina, MD, is a board-certified surgeon specializing in pediatric transplantation. Craig Langman, MD, head of the Division of Kidney Diseases, helps detect and treat complex kidney problems needing a transplant.

Make an Appointment

Call 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC®) or 1.312.227.4030 to make an appointment. You can also use our online resources to request an appointment and learn how to how to prepare.

Learn More

For more information about kidney transplants, review these related conditions.

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​Transitioning to Home Care

Almost Home Kids (AHK), now part of the Lurie Children’s family, cares for children with complicated health needs by providing family training, respite care and short-term transitional care in a home-like setting. AHK is staffed with medical professionals and volunteers to make sure every child and their families are prepared for the return home. The Division of Pediatric Kidney Transplantations works closely with Almost Home Kids to make the care transition process as easy as possible.

Learn more about AHK.