The Transplant Center at Cleveland Clinic in Florida provides all types of kidney transplants, including living donor kidney transplant services. We help patients with kidney disease and kidney failure enjoy healthier futures. Our South Florida program builds upon the success of our Ohio program, which is one of the world’s most established kidney transplant programs.

Kidney Transplants at Cleveland Clinic in Florida: Why Choose Us?

Patients who come to us for kidney transplants benefit from:

  • Proven success in kidney transplants: Our patient survival rates meet and often exceed national kidney transplant averages. We have a 90% or higher three-year patient survival rate, depending on the transplant type. See if you’re a kidney transplant candidate.
  • Short wait times for donor kidneys: Our ability to offer all types of kidney transplants can mean short wait times. Find out what to expect from a kidney transplant.
  • Expanded access to donor kidneys: We have the expertise to transplant kidneys from living kidney donors and higher-risk deceased donors. We only use the higher-risk donors when we’re confident the kidney is healthy. Learn more about living donor programs.
  • Range of kidney transplant options: Our team expertly performs all types of kidney transplants, including complex multi-organ transplants. We consider each patient’s unique situation and the availability of a compatible donor kidney. See what types of kidney transplants we offer.
  • Preemptive kidney transplants: We specialize in preemptive kidney transplants. Patients get a kidney transplant before they have complete kidney failure or need long-term dialysis. An early transplant often means an easier recovery and improved outcomes. Learn more about our Preemptive Kidney Transplant Clinic.
  • Comprehensive kidney disease treatments: Experts in our Department of Nephrology and Hypertension offer advanced services for all types of kidney disorders. We also provide comprehensive care for patients who have both liver disease and kidney disease.
  • Access to clinical trials: Our kidney disease and kidney transplant specialists are active in research and clinical trials. You may be able to try leading-edge kidney therapies not widely available to the public. See how to participate in a clinical trial.

Nationally recognized kidney care

Kidney transplants take place at our Cleveland Clinic Weston Hospital, a Blue Distinction® Center for adult kidney deceased and living donor transplants. This means our facility is recognized for both expertise and efficiency in performing these procedures.

Newsweek lists us as the highest-ranked hospital in South Florida and one of the best in the nation. All hospitals at Cleveland Clinic in Florida are consistently recognized among the best in the state. Learn more about our recognitions and rankings.

Team approach to kidney transplantations

You receive the highest-level medical care from our kidney transplant care team and specialists from other medical fields. This team communicates with your referring physician throughout the transplant process.

A dedicated kidney transplant nurse coordinator is your primary contact. These specialists guide you and your family through the kidney transplant process. They’re available 24/7.

Care team members may include specialists in:

Convenient access to kidney care

For patients outside the Cleveland Clinic health system, our kidney transplant team partners with referring physicians. This team effort ensures seamless, convenient access to pre- and post-transplant recovery care.

All patients receive kidney transplant care at:

Patients with kidney disease also receive care at:

Kidney transplant services

Our kidney transplant services include:

Kidney Transplant Candidates

Kidney Transplant Candidates

Our team at the Cleveland Clinic in Florida Transplant Center carefully screens every patient for transplant eligibility. Our streamlined process minimizes the time from evaluation to waitlist to surgery.

Indications for a Kidney Transplant

Most patients who need a kidney transplant have damage from chronic kidney disease (CKD). Kidney damage affects how well the organs filter waste products from blood and maintain healthy fluid levels.

Over time, CKD can progress to kidney failure (also called end-stage renal disease or ESRD). When the kidneys fail, a buildup of waste and fluids in the body can cause life-threatening problems. You need dialysis to do the work of the kidneys or a kidney transplant.

Patients who come to our kidney transplant program don’t need to have severe kidney failure or be on dialysis to qualify for a kidney transplant with us. We excel in preemptive kidney transplants. Transplant surgery takes place before kidney failure and the need for dialysis.

Conditions that cause kidney failure

These conditions can damage the kidneys and lead to CKD and kidney failure:

Kidney Transplant Evaluation Process

We perform extensive physical and mental health evaluations on every potential kidney transplant candidate. These screenings ensure patients can cope with the impact of major surgery on physical, mental and financial health.

Tests to determine eligibility for a kidney transplant include:

  • Kidney function tests: Results from blood and urine tests show how well the kidneys are filtering blood. Kidney function tests include a blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).
  • Imaging scans: Our imaging services experts use the latest technology to take high-quality images of the kidneys and surrounding organs. Imaging tests include kidney ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs. Our team uses their extensive experience to interpret scans and diagnose kidney conditions accurately. This information guides the transplant decision-making process.
  • Physical examination: In addition to kidney function tests, a pre-transplant physical examination may include cancer screenings, lung tests and dental examinations.
  • Psychosocial evaluation: This assessment ensures patients have the support and financial resources necessary to recover from a kidney transplant. This type of support is key to a successful post-transplant recovery.

Preemptive Kidney Transplant Clinic

Kidney disease progresses from stage 1 (mild kidney damage) to stage 5 (kidney failure). Specialists at our Preemptive Kidney Transplant Clinic closely monitor disease progression. We may place patients on the national transplant waitlist or initiate a living donor kidney transplant when kidney damage becomes moderate (stage 3) or poor (stage 4).

Patients who receive a preemptive kidney transplant tend to have fewer complications and an easier recovery. Learn more about our Preemptive Kidney Transplant Clinic.

Next steps to kidney transplantation

If you’re a candidate for a kidney transplant, we place you on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) national kidney transplant waitlist. We’ll also discuss living donor kidney transplant options.

Our wait times for a kidney transplant are among the shortest in the state. Still, it may take months or years to find the right donor kidney for your unique body size, blood type and needs. If you aren't already getting dialysis, you may need this treatment until you get a transplant.

Find out what to expect during kidney transplantation.

What to Expect

What to Expect

People needing a kidney transplant who come to Cleveland Clinic in Florida may get a kidney from a living or deceased donor. Our Transplant Center nurse coordinators help you navigate this complex transplant journey. We also have dedicated living donor coordinators who guide both patients and potential living donors.

Kidney Transplant Next Steps at Cleveland Clinic in Florida

People who qualify as kidney transplant candidates may expect these next steps:

Placement on the national transplant waitlist

Our kidney transplant team places patients on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) national waitlist when they have stage 4 kidney disease. Patients with stage 4 kidney disease have severe kidney function loss. They’re at risk for progressing to the next stage, kidney failure, which requires dialysis.

Preemptive kidney transplant care

Our Preemptive Kidney Transplant Clinic team monitors kidney disease progression. Some patients may get a preemptive kidney transplant before they develop kidney failure or need dialysis. Learn more about our Preemptive Kidney Transplant Clinic.

Living kidney donor screenings

Family members and friends may choose to give one of their two kidneys to a loved one. A person only needs one healthy kidney to enjoy a full life. Our living donor coordinator helps facilitate the living kidney donor transplant process.

Potential living donors undergo thorough physical and mental health assessments. A critical first step is seeing if the donor’s and patient’s blood types are a good match. If they’re not, our living donor programs offer other options.

Some living donors are unable to or choose not to donate when the time arrives. For this reason, we place all patients on the national waitlist even if they have a living donor. Sometimes, patients get a kidney from a deceased donor before a living donor kidney transplant takes place.

Learn more about living kidney donors.

Kidney disease treatments

Our kidney transplant team partners with our Department of Nephrology (Kidney Medicine) and Hypertension specialists to provide ongoing kidney care. These physicians work closely with a patient’s primary physician throughout the pre- and post-transplant process.

Medications and lifestyle changes can slow kidney disease progression. Patients with kidney failure need dialysis to help filter waste and fluids from the body. Our team works with a patient’s chosen dialysis center to ensure proper treatment before transplantation.

Convenient kidney health tests

We regularly test your kidney function to monitor disease progression. Kidney disease that worsens may move you higher on the waitlist, improving the chances of getting a kidney from a deceased donor faster.

We make it easier to get kidney function tests and pre-transplant care. In many instances, you continue seeing your primary nephrologist. Our team partners with referring physicians to ensure proper testing and seamless care delivery.

Preparing for a Kidney Transplant

Living donor kidney transplants offer many benefits, including knowing when the surgery will take place. If you’re waiting for a deceased donor kidney, our transplant nurse coordinator will contact you when an organ becomes available. You should follow their instructions for what to do next.

Upon arrival at the Transplant Center at Cleveland Clinic in Florida, you’ll get a physical examination, chest X-rays and an EKG (heart test). You’ll also get a blood test to ensure you and the donor are a good match. Some patients need dialysis before surgery.

Find out what to expect during post-transplant recovery.

Types of Kidney Transplants

Types of Kidney Transplants

The kidney transplant specialists at Cleveland Clinic in Florida expertly perform all types of kidney transplants. Our Transplant Center patient survival rates meet or exceed the national average, depending on the transplant type.

Our team’s experience performing all types of kidney transplants means we’re able to accept a wider range of donor kidneys. For patients, this often means a shorter wait for transplantation. We consider many factors, including a patient’s unique needs, when determining the best type of kidney transplant.

Living donor kidney transplants

When possible, a living kidney donor is the best option for transplantation. With a living kidney donor, a transplant can take place before a patient’s health worsens. A healthier, stronger patient tends to have an easier post-transplant recovery. A family member, friend or stranger can donate a kidney. Living donors and transplant recipients can lead full lives with one kidney.

Learn more about living kidney donors.

Deceased donor kidney transplants

About two-thirds of donor kidneys come from deceased donors. People agree in advance to donate their organs when they die. Patients on the national transplant waitlist are waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor. Unfortunately, the number of people on the kidney transplant waitlist far exceeds the number of available kidneys from deceased donors.

The national average wait time for a kidney transplant from a deceased donor is three to five years. A living donor kidney transplant can happen faster. But not everyone has a person who’s a good match or able to donate. Some patients have high levels of antibodies (proteins) that make it more difficult to find a compatible living or deceased donor.

At our Transplant Center, we’ve taken innovative steps to help more of our patients get lifesaving kidneys from deceased donors.

Matching with a deceased donor

The national Organ Procurement and Transplant Network uses two calculations to match kidneys from deceased donors and recipients.

  • Kidney donor profile index (KDPI) score: KDPI estimates how long a kidney from a deceased donor may function after transplantation. Kidneys with a lower KDPI score (closer to zero) should function longer than those with a higher score (closer to 100).
  • Estimated post-transplant survival (EPTS) score: An EPTS score estimates how long a transplant recipient may benefit after receiving a donor kidney. EPTS scores range from 0 to 100. Transplant recipients with a lower EPTS score are more likely to get low-KDPI kidneys because they have more time to benefit from transplantation than those with higher EPTS scores.

Kidneys from high-risk donors

In the past, doctors couldn’t accept organs from people who died of drug overdoses. This was due to a high risk of infectious diseases like hepatitis C. This virus can enter the bloodstream through infected needles and exposure to infected blood. Today, more than 1 in 8 donor organs are from drug overdose deaths. These organ donors are often younger with healthy kidneys.

Cleveland Clinic transplant surgeons helped pioneer the transplantation of hepatitis C-positive organs into disease-free patients. We do this only with the transplant recipient’s consent. After surgery, the transplant recipient takes antiviral medications for several weeks. The medications cure the disease, so the patient doesn’t have hepatitis.

Studies show that kidney transplants from this type of expanded criteria donor are highly successful. Patients also get donor kidneys faster, often within six weeks of consenting to a hepatitis-positive kidney.

Kidney perfusion

Transplanted organs fare better when they’re without oxygen-rich blood for a short time. For this reason, many organs traditionally come from donors experiencing brain death. These donors have no brain activity or chance of recovery. A mechanical ventilator, a form of life support, keeps blood circulating until donor surgery takes place.

We also accept donor kidneys from people who experience circulatory death. Circulatory death (also called cardiac death) means the heart stops beating and blood stops flowing before donor surgery. Lack of blood flow to organs after circulatory death can cause organ tissue damage.

Our Transplant Center uses machine perfusion whenever possible to minimize damage to kidneys donated after circulatory death. A machine pumps oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood through the donor kidney after it arrives at our Transplant Center.

Organ perfusion also allows us to test kidney function before transplantation. This step is especially helpful for kidneys from higher-risk donors. When necessary, we perfuse the donor kidney for several hours to improve the health of the kidney before transplantation. Research suggests that perfused organs may work better and improve the chances of a successful, long-term transplant.

Pediatric en bloc kidney transplants

Our kidney transplant program was one of the first in the state to perform pediatric en bloc kidney transplants. The procedure involves transplanting both kidneys from a deceased pediatric donor. The transplant recipient also receives the donor’s aorta (large artery) and vena cava (large veins), which remain attached to the kidneys.

Children tend to have healthy kidneys free of damaging diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. Although an infant or child’s kidneys are very small, they grow with the transplant recipient over time. A patient eventually has two normal-sized, disease-free kidneys.

Pediatric en bloc kidney transplants involve connecting tiny blood vessels and organs to an adult body. Few centers have the expertise to perform this intricate procedure. We offer this procedure to help more patients enjoy longer, fuller lives.

Multi-organ transplants

Some conditions damage multiple organs like the kidneys, heart, liver or pancreas. Cleveland Clinic transplant teams are among a select few in the country with deep experience in successfully transplanting multiple organs in one surgery.

Our kidney transplant team partners with surgeons from our heart transplant program and liver transplant program. They also tap the expertise of transplant surgeons from Cleveland Clinic in Ohio who specialize in multi-organ transplants.

Patients who come to our Transplant Center may get:

  • Kidney and heart transplants.
  • Kidney and liver transplants.
Preemptive Kidney Transplant Clinic

Preemptive Kidney Transplant Clinic

Our Preemptive Kidney Transplant Clinic helps qualified patients get a donor kidney before complete kidney failure and dialysis. We also perform early kidney transplants for patients on dialysis for a short time.

Benefits of Preemptive Kidney Transplant

Preemptive kidney care serves as a bridge to kidney transplant. It helps people with chronic kidney disease avoid dialysis. This treatment removes waste and fluids from blood, returning filtered blood back to the body. Dialysis is lifesaving. But it’s also time-consuming, which means missed workdays or social activities. There’s also a risk of infection and other complications.

A preemptive kidney transplant takes place before a patient becomes seriously ill. The kidney usually comes from a living kidney donor, which is faster than waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor.

Patients who are healthier and stronger when they get a kidney transplant often have an easier post-transplant recovery. Research also indicates that patients who get preemptive kidney transplants enjoy better long-term health and quality of life.

Are you a candidate for a preemptive kidney transplant?

Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who haven’t started dialysis may be eligible for preemptive kidney transplants. CKD gets progressively worse, with stages ranging from 1 (mild kidney damage) to 5 (kidney failure).

Our clinic provides treatments to slow kidney disease progression. With proper medical care, some patients with mild to moderate CKD never need dialysis or transplantation. We monitor kidney health using the same tests for all kidney transplant candidates.

The preemptive kidney transplant process

We start the living donor kidney transplant process in preemptive care when a patient is in early stage kidney disease. Our dedicated living donor coordinator helps patients and their potential living donors navigate this process.

We also place all patients on the national transplant waitlist as soon as they qualify. This approach ensures transplant options for those who don’t have a living donor. Waitlist placement also helps if a potential living donor isn’t a good match or able to donate.

Some preemptive care patients may be on the transplant waitlist for years before needing dialysis or a transplant. Early placement on the waitlist may shorten the time a patient needs dialysis before getting a transplant.

Living Kidney Donors

Living Kidney Donors

Most people have two kidneys. One healthy kidney can do the work of two, which makes it possible to donate a kidney to someone in need. After a living donor kidney transplant, both the organ donor and recipient can lead full, active lives.

We still place people on the national kidney transplant waitlist even when they have someone willing to donate a kidney. Not everyone who wants to donate a kidney can do so. And some people change their minds. Sometimes, a kidney from a deceased donor becomes available first.

Living Donor Kidney Transplants at Cleveland Clinic in Florida

The Transplant Center at Cleveland Clinic in Florida is one of the top centers in the state for living donor kidney transplants. Our one- and three-year patient and kidney graft survival rates are excellent.

Benefits of living donor kidney transplants

Patients who choose our living donor program benefit from:

Shorter wait for a kidney transplant

It can take four years or more for a patient on the national transplant waitlist to get a deceased donor kidney. During this time, their health may worsen. Patients who have a living donor often get transplant surgery in less than one year.

To minimize wait times, we participate in national paired kidney exchanges or swaps. Living donors who aren’t a good match for a specific patient donate their kidney to someone else in need who’s more compatible. This person may be anywhere in the country. A family member or friend of the person who receives the kidney then donates a kidney to the first patient in need. Multiple swaps may take place, helping to reduce wait times.

Preemptive kidney transplants

A preemptive kidney transplant takes place before a patient has complete kidney failure and needs dialysis. The availability of a living donor helps our team plan a preemptive kidney transplant surgery before a patient becomes too ill. Patients who are in relatively good health tend to have an easier post-transplant recovery with fewer complications. Learn more about our Preemptive Kidney Transplant Clinic.

Healthier donor kidneys

Living donors tend to be younger and in better overall health than deceased organ donors. As a result, the donor kidney often works for 15 to 20 years (sometimes longer). This is five to 10 years longer than the expected lifespan of a kidney from a deceased donor.

Decreased time to transplantation

Surgeries for both the donor and recipient usually take place on the same day. There’s minimal risk of tissue damage because the kidney is out of a person’s body for a very brief time. The donor kidney often starts working immediately after transplantation. In rare instances, a patient who gets a kidney from a deceased donor needs dialysis until the kidney starts working.

Reduced risk of organ rejection

A donor kidney from a relative is often a better match than a kidney from an unrelated donor. As a result, there’s less risk of organ rejection and a greater chance of long-term transplant success.

Donating a Kidney at Cleveland Clinic in Florida

Kidney donation is relatively safe, but it’s still a major surgery. It can be difficult to ask someone to take this step. Our dedicated living donor coordinator helps patients identify potential living donors. They also assist patients as they have this challenging conversation.

Our surgeons perform laparoscopic surgery for donor surgery. A laparoscopic donor nephrectomy involves using a laparoscope camera and tiny instruments to remove a kidney through small abdominal incisions. This procedure is less invasive than making one large abdominal incision.

Recovery after kidney donation surgery

Kidney donors have a faster recovery thanks to our laparoscopic approach. Most donors go home within two days of surgery. Minimally invasive surgery offers other benefits, such as less pain, scarring and risk of infection.

Before discharge, donors and their caregivers receive information about:

  • Surgical incision care and signs of infection.
  • Managing postsurgical issues like pain, constipation or bloating.
  • Activity limitations, such as not driving or lifting heavy objects for at least six weeks after surgery.

Life after kidney donation surgery

Donating a kidney shouldn’t affect the donor’s ability to lead a full, active life. The remaining kidney will grow as it takes over the work of the donated kidney. Most donors don’t have dietary or activity restrictions. However, donors should talk to their primary care providers about playing contact sports, which could injure the remaining kidney.

Become a Living Kidney Donor

To learn more about living kidney donation:

Post-Transplant Recovery

Post-Transplant Recovery

Your recovery after a kidney transplant depends on your age, health at the time of transplant and other factors. Our kidney transplant team ensures you have the care, resources and support for a successful transplantation and recovery.

After a Kidney Transplant: Next Steps

You continue to receive medical care reflecting the world-class reputation of our Transplant Center at Cleveland Clinic in Florida during your post-transplant recovery. A transplant nurse coordinator guides you and your family through the recovery and discharge process.

Here’s what to expect after a kidney transplant:

Inpatient recovery

After surgery, our kidney transplant team closely monitors you in the transplant center recovery unit. Most patients move to our Transplant Special Care Unit the same day as surgery. Sometimes, patients temporarily need dialysis until the transplanted donor kidney starts working.

You can expect to have:

  • A catheter (flexible tube) that empties urine from your bladder into a bag outside your body. The tube gives your urinary system time to heal. It also allows our team to monitor kidney function by measuring urine output.
  • Sore throat from having a breathing tube in place during surgery.
  • Inflatable devices on your legs (intermittent pneumatic compression) that help prevent blood clots.

Going home after a kidney transplant

Many people go home two days after surgery. We find that patients recover more comfortably at home. Plus, a shorter hospital stay minimizes the risk of infections. Of course, some people need more time. We make sure everyone feels confident taking care of their health before leaving our Transplant Center.

You and your caregivers receive information about:

  • Surgical incision care and signs of infection.
  • Warning signs of organ rejection.
  • Medication schedules, such as what medicines to take and when, and potential drug side effects.
  • Monitoring and recording blood pressure, weight and temperature.
  • Tracking and recording fluid intake and urine output.
  • Dietary restrictions, such as limiting sodium.
  • Activity limitations, such as not driving or lifting heavy objects until our team gives the OK (usually six weeks after surgery).

It can take three months or longer to recover fully from kidney transplant surgery. You may have pain, itching or numbness around the incision area while it heals.

Convenient post-transplant care

After a kidney transplant, you need weekly or biweekly exams and lab tests for at least six months. Blood and urine tests help our team detect early signs of organ rejection and start immediate treatments.

We also monitor for side effects from immunosuppressant drugs that prevent organ rejection. As your health improves, you’ll switch to monthly and then annual checkups.

Our team stays in constant contact with your primary nephrologist throughout the transplant process. You may choose to receive follow-up tests and care from your primary physician after our kidney transplant surgeon clears you.

Our Doctors

Our Doctors

Appointments & Locations

Appointments & Locations

Patients and referring physicians may access our dedicated Transplant Center phone line at 954.659.6740 or email transplantfla@ccf.org.

Our kidney transplant program services include: