Virginia Transplant Center
Virginia Transplant Center, located in HCA Virginia’s Henrico Doctors’ Hospital in Richmond, VA, uses the most advanced technology along with medical and surgical innovations to provide individualized, ongoing care for kidney transplant patients.
We specialize in kidney transplants, living kidney donations and paired exchange kidney transplants.
Your Kidney Transplant Experts
At Virginia Transplant Center, our kidney transplant referral patients average 90 days from referral to listing, which becomes life-saving time for patients and families. Additionally, we have more than five times the paired exchange kidney transplant experience than any other transplant center in Virginia.
Our nationally respected specialists have extensive experience performing successful transplants. They are supported by a team of highly skilled nurse practitioners, registered nurses, transplant pharmacists, transplant dietitians and social workers experienced in caring for kidney transplant donors and recipients.
Most people are born with two healthy kidneys but only need one to function normally, so a healthy person may choose to undergo surgery to donate a kidney to someone in need. This is known as a living kidney donation.
About the Living Kidney Donation Process
Decades of successful transplants have made living kidney donations routine and safe. At the Virginia Transplant Center, kidneys are removed from living donors using minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery that allows for faster, less painful recovery. Additionally a transplant coordinator guides the donor through the entire experience from evaluation through surgery and follow-up.
Benefits of Living Kidney Donation
- Our living donor transplant patients average 6 weeks from referral to listing, allowing the transplant to be arranged based on donor convenience
- Kidney recipients may wait three to five years for a kidney from a deceased donor – living kidney donation eliminates this prolonged waiting period
- Living donor kidneys normally begin to function more quickly than kidneys from a deceased donor
- Living kidney donation has been shown to have better acceptance rates and long-term outcomes for recipients
Making Your Decision
While many people have found living kidney donation to be a rewarding experience, the Virginia Transplant Center knows that the decision to donate is personal and complex. Our team is here to help answer your questions so you can make the best, most informed decision.
With advances in the field of transplantation, kidney transplants have become a highly successful treatment option for patients with chronic kidney disease. Here are the steps in the kidney transplant process:
- Referral: The transplant process begins when your primary care physician or dialysis unit refers you to the Virginia Transplant Center's program. Alternatively, you may call us to refer yourself to the program. Either way, we will contact you via phone to determine if you may be a good candidate for transplant. If it is determined that you may be, we will set up a consultation appointment.
- Initial consultation appointments: Initial consultation appointments: During your initial consultation appointments, we will perform a medical evaluation to determine the medical viability of your kidney transplant. You will meet with a social worker to evaluate your ability to cope with the transplant process and follow a rigorous treatment plan, both before and after the transplant. A financial coordinator will contact you to discuss the costs associated with your transplant and required post-transplant medications. They will help you understand the costs that may not be covered by your insurance. If your initial appointments indicate you may be able to undergo a kidney transplant, a comprehensive medical evaluation will be scheduled.
- Medical evaluation (medical work-up): Depending on your age and health condition, many different tests will be done to determine if you are a suitable transplant recipient. You will meet with the transplant coordinator to receive information regarding the transplant evaluation process, the listing process and your responsibilities before and after transplant. A transplant surgeon will meet with you to discuss the appropriateness of a transplant based on your medical evaluation results. If it is determined that you are an appropriate transplant candidate, your surgeon will provide you with more detailed information about the transplant process and you will be “listed” for transplant.
- Transplant: When a donor organ becomes available, you will be called and reevaluated for transplant suitability at that time. If appropriate, a blood test will be performed to determine if you are a match with the donor organ, in which case you will be asked to come to the hospital for the transplant surgery. During the transplant surgery, you will be put under general anesthesia. You will also be placed on a machine to help you breathe. Your surgeon will discuss the benefits and risks with you before you begin.
- Post-transplant: After the surgery, you will be taken to the transplant stepdown unit or intensive care unit (ICU) as appropriate. Immediately following the surgery, you will experience pain which will be carefully monitored and controlled at the hospital. Most transplant recipients have a significant reduction in pain the first week after surgery. You will remain in the hospital as long as your doctors feel it is necessary. Most patients stay in the hospital for approximately seven to 10 days.
- Recovery: After you leave the hospital you will still be recovering and will have some restrictions on your daily activities for the first six weeks post-transplant. You will need to be monitored on a long-term basis, and you must make yourself available for examinations, laboratory tests and scans to see how well your transplanted kidney is working. If you do not live locally, a social worker will help you obtain local, affordable housing for a period of one to four weeks post-transplant, or until your doctor determines you are medically able to go home. Every effort is made to transition your care to your primary care physician, but our transplant clinic will follow your progress throughout your life. In addition to regular check-ups with your doctor, this typically involves frequent lab work and a yearly visit to the transplant clinic.
The Virginia Transplant Center is available to you from 8:00am - 4:30pm daily. A transplant coordinator is available 24 hours a day in case of emergencies.
If you or your loved one needs a kidney transplant, if you are interested in becoming a living kidney donor, or if you have questions about our kidney transplant services, contact us at (804) 289-4941 or toll-free at (877) 626-4581.
Virginia Transplant Center at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital
1602 Skipwith Rd, Professional Office Building, Suite 303
Richmond, VA 23229
Melissa Van Syckle, RN, BSN, has over 20 years of nursing experience at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital. Her role as Living Donor Coordinator is to educate prospective living kidney donors and help them navigate through the process to become a living donor. As the transplant center’s Paired Exchange Coordinator, she also works with donor and recipient pairs through the National Kidney Registry’s paired exchange program in order to facilitate living donor transplant swaps for pairs that may not be compatible with one another.
Melissa received her first Bachelor of Science degree from Old Dominion University, then returned to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Her background is in Critical Care Nursing where she cared for kidney transplant recipients at the bedside, before joining the transplant team in 2010.
Interested in becoming a living kidney donor?
Please watch this four-video series, which provides a great deal of information on the process, from the reasons kidney donation is so important, to what required of living donors, to details about kidney paired exchange.
From our Health Library, learn more about Kidney Transplant Services.