What happens during kidney transplant surgery

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

Going to the operating room

The operating room (OR) staff will let your nurse and doctor know when they are ready. Usually you will walk to the OR with a transport person.

If you are feeling really anxious, tell your nurse or doctor or the anaesthetist as soon as possible. They may be able to give you some medication to calm you. If you receive this medication, you will be taken to the OR by stretcher or in your bed.

Once you are in the OR, you will be given general anaesthetic through the IV in your hand or arm. This will make sure you sleep through the operation and do not feel any pain.

Teen boy with central venous line in chest

If you do not already have a central venous line (CVL), one will be placed in a blood vessel near your collarbone once you are asleep and before your transplant surgery begins. The transplant team will use this CVL after transplant to give you medications and take your blood for tests.


The surgeon will first make an incision (a cut) in your lower belly to place the new kidney inside. They will connect the blood vessels of the new kidney to your blood vessels and will connect the ureter (the tube that carries the urine) to your bladder.

The surgeon will usually leave your own kidneys where they are, but there are times when they might remove them. You will know before coming for your transplant if your own kidneys will need to come out.

If your kidneys are left where they are, they will continue to be connected to your bladder. They may continue to make urine for a while after your transplant until your new kidney eventually takes over.

When the surgery is finished, the surgeon will close the cut in your lower belly with stitches or staples.

How long will my surgery take?

Kidney transplant surgery usually takes four to six hours. The surgical team will keep your parents or guardians updated, especially if the surgery takes longer than expected.

If you would like to know more, take a look at this 20-minute video of the main stages of a kidney transplant.

Warning: This video has graphic and up-close shots of surgery, including real organs and blood!

Last updated: November 30th 2017