Virginia Transplant Center

Henrico Doctors’ Hospital is the proud home to HCA Virginia’s Virginia Transplant Center, located in Richmond, Virginia. The transplant center uses the latest technology, along with innovative medical and surgical techniques, to provide individualized, ongoing care for kidney transplant patients. Our facility specializes in kidney transplants, living kidney donations and paired exchange kidney transplants.

Contact Virginia Transplant Center

The Virginia Transplant Center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We have transplant coordinators available 24 hours a day in case of emergencies.

If you or a loved one needs a kidney transplant, are interested in becoming a living kidney donor or have questions about our kidney transplant services, please call us at (804) 289-4941 or toll-free at (877) 626-4581.

Your kidney transplant surgery 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. Our nationally respected and recognized specialists and nephrologists have extensive, successful experience in performing kidney transplants and are supported by a team of highly skilled nurse practitioners, registered nurses, transplant pharmacists, transplant dietitians and social workers who are all experienced in caring for kidney transplant donors and recipients.

Living kidney donations

Most people are born with two healthy kidneys but only need one to function normally. A healthy person may choose to undergo surgery to donate a kidney to someone in need. This act is known as a living kidney donation.

Sometimes, a willing kidney donor is unable to give their kidney to a specific recipient, such as a friend or relative, due to incompatible blood types. When that happens, we find another donor-recipient pair in the same situation and "swap" kidneys between the pairs. This is called a paired exchange kidney transplant. Virginia Transplant Center has more than five times the paired exchange kidney transplant experience than any other transplant center in Virginia.

Living kidney donations have been performed successfully, safely and routinely for decades. At our transplant center, kidneys are removed from living donors using minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, which allows for a faster, less painful recovery. Additionally, a transplant coordinator guides our living donors through the entire process, from evaluation through surgery and follow-up.

Find out if you could be a living kidney donor.

Interested in becoming a living kidney donor?


Please watch this four-video series to learn more about kidney donation, including the reasons kidney donation is so important, what required of living donors and details about kidney paired exchange.

Watch more videos on our kidney transplant services

Benefits of living kidney donation

  • Our living donor transplant patients average six 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 the decision to be a living kidney donor

While many people find living kidney donation to be a rewarding experience, the Virginia Transplant Center knows that your decision to donate is personal, unique and complex. Our team is here to help answer your questions so you can make the best, most informed decision.

Inspired at the DMV:
Why this Man Gave his Kidney to a Stranger

Read the full story

brad dugai transplant story

Meet our living donor coordinator

Melissa Van Syckle is a living donor coordinator at Virginia Transplant Center at Henrico Doctors' Hospital in Richmond, VA

Melissa Van Syckle has over 20 years of nursing experience at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital. Her role as the 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 to facilitate living donor swaps for pairs that may not be compatible with one another.

Melissa received her first Bachelor of Science from Old Dominion University, then returned to earn her Bachelor of Science in nursing. She served as a critical care nurse, caring for kidney transplant recipients at the bedside, before joining the transplant team in 2010.

If you are interested in living kidney donation, you can email Melissa at melissa.vansyckle@hcahealthcare.com or call the transplant center.

Kidney transplant process

The advances in the field of transplantation have made kidney transplants a highly successful treatment option for patients with chronic kidney disease or renal failure. The following are the steps in the kidney transplant process.

Referral

The transplant process begins when your primary care physician or dialysis unit refers you to Virginia Transplant Center’s program. Alternatively, you may call us to refer yourself to our program. Either way, we will contact you via phone to determine if you may be a good candidate for a transplant. If you are deemed a good candidate, we will set up a consultation appointment.

Initial consultation appointments

During your initial consultation appointments, our team 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

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 surgery

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 surgery, you will be put under general anesthesia and placed on a machine to help you breathe. Your surgeon will discuss the benefits and risks with you before you begin.

Post-transplant surgery

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 our facility. 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 kidney transplant surgery

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 provider, but our transplant center will follow your progress throughout your life. Additionally, you will have regular check-ups with your doctors. This typically involves frequent lab work and a yearly visit to the transplant clinic.

Transplant resources

The following resources provide more insight into organ donation and the kidney transplant process: