How Common Are Kidney Transplants?

Kidney transplants are the most common type of organ transplants in the United States. According to information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost 60% of the 28,535 organ transplants performed in 2011 were kidney transplants. That includes 16,056 adult kidney transplants and 756 pediatric transplants.

More facts about kidney transplants:

  • Kidney transplants are performed after kidney failure occurs. Depending on the availability of a donor kidney, patients might spend some time undergoing dialysis until the transplant surgery can proceed.

  • The first attempts at kidney transplants took place at Austria's Vienna Medical School in 1902. Those transplants involved only animals. It was not until 1909 that surgeons in France attempted the first transplants to humans, using animal kidneys. Although the results of the French surgeries showed some promise, all of the transplanted organs were rejected within hours or a couple of weeks.

  • Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, was the site of the first successful human-to-human kidney transplant. In 1954, Joseph E. Murray transplanted a kidney that was donated by the patient’s twin. This was done without the use of medication to suppress the patient’s immune system, because tests indicated that the patient’s system would not perceive the transplanted kidney as being foreign.

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