Transplant program in Denver, Colorado

At HealthONE, we understand that learning you may need a organ transplant can be an overwhelming process. That's why our expert team is here to provide you with comprehensive, compassionate care every step of the way.

The members of your transplant team will meet with you one-on-one in a private hospital setting to deliver a personalized experience. We will work with your referring physicians on a regular basis to keep them informed, assuring that you will receive the best possible care throughout your transplant journey.

For more information about HealthONE's transplant services, please call (720) 754-2155.

What is an organ transplant?

In some cases, an individual may have an organ that no longer functions properly and cannot be repaired or saved by traditional methods—including medications and surgery. In these cases, the patient may referred for an organ transplant.

An organ transplant is the process of finding a healthy, functioning organ from one individual (there are many types of donors) and transplanting that organ into the body of the patient who needs it.

Our doctors specialize in both kidney transplants and liver transplants.

How does a transplant work?

If your doctors have decided that you are in need of a transplant, they will recommend you to our transplant team for an evaluation. The evaluation will allow us to determine your eligibility for a transplant in addition to the severity of your current organ failure.

If you are eligible, you will be placed on a waiting list while we search for a donor that matches your unique criteria.

Types of donors

We offer several methods of organ donations to increase the likelihood that you will have timely access to the organ that you need.

Deceased donor transplant

Donation of a deceased loved one's healthy organs gives recipients the opportunity to continue living long and full lives. Many of our transplant donations are made by the families of deceased individuals who believe in giving back.

If receiving an organ from a living donor is not preferred or possible, the patient will be placed on the waiting list for a deceased donor. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is responsible for the allocation of all deceased donor donations. UNOS uses a set of criteria, including waiting time and tissue compatibility, to match the organ to the recipient.

Living donor transplant

Receiving a living donor organ transplant is preferable to a deceased donor transplant. This is because living donor organs function longer in the body and provide better patient survival than deceased donor organs. This will also eliminate your need to stay on the waitlist. Living donor transplants are usually possible with organs such as the kidney, where a patient can offer to donate one of their own organs. Sometimes, partial donations from a living donor are also possible.

Altruistic donation (non-directed donor)

An altruistic donation is when a person volunteers to donate an organ to an unknown recipient. A non-directed altruistic donor can either donate into the paired donation program to create a "chain" of transplants or donate anonymously to a single patient on the national transplant waitlist.

Living Donor Champion program

Finding a living donor can be a difficult task, and it can also be uncomfortable to discuss donation with others. Through the Living Donor Champion program at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center, you have the opportunity to identify a friend or family member to become your Living Donor Champion (LDC). We will provide education and training to your LDC so they can tell your story to others and help identify a living donor for you.

If you have a Living Donor Champion, please call us at (720) 754-2155 for more information.

What to expect when having transplant surgery

If a donor is found, you can expect a call from our transplant team as quickly as possible. The entire surgical procedure depends on what type of transplant is being performed but lasts approximately three to four hours. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia.

The surgeon will begin by making an incision to access the transplant site. After the surgeon inspects the donor's organ, it will be placed into the surgical site and properly connected to veins and arteries. Once blood is properly flowing into the new organ, the surgeon will then close the site with staples, sutures or glue.

Postoperative care

Immediately after surgery, you will be taken to the intensive care unit (ICU), generally for 24-hour observation. You will then be transitioned to a designated transplant floor for the duration of your hospitalization (usually four to five days).

Outpatient follow-up care

Once discharged from the hospital, you will be followed very closely in our transplant clinic. The duration and frequency of visits change over time as organ function stabilizes and rejection and infection risks decrease.

Post-transplant medications

Anti-rejection medications (also called immunosuppression medications) protect the transplanted organ by reducing your immune system's ability to trigger a response to your new organ. There are several anti-rejection medications available, and each works in a different way to suppress the body’s immune response.

Our transplant team will determine which combination of medications is right for you, and we may alter a medication regimen after the transplant to prevent rejection or reduce side effects.

Support groups

Your social network of friends and family is critical to the success of your transplant. We invite you to participate in a monthly support group at no cost to you or your family. We will provide resources and education needed to navigate through the transplant process. You are encouraged to visit the support group to meet other patients and to learn first-hand about the experiences of others.

Financial costs

An organ donor’s medical expenses, including evaluation, surgery, hospitalization and after-care are usually covered by the organ recipient's insurance. It is against federal law for anyone to pay directly for living organs, but it is acceptable for a recipient to cover expenses for any travel, lodging or lost wages resulting from the donation.

Additional transplant information

You will find additional information below about what makes our transplant program unique.

Pancreas transplant care

Our transplant nephrologists assume medical follow-up care of pancreas transplant recipients that have received a transplant at a different hospital. We also evaluate patients who would be candidates for a simultaneous kidney-pancreas transplant.

Research trials

Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center, our main hospital for transplants, has an active research division. Clinical investigations are constantly evaluating current protocols for a kidney transplant that may prolong survival rates, decrease rejection episodes or decrease the side effects of anti-rejection drugs.

There may be a research protocol or study that would benefit you. If possible, the research team will give you detailed information about the study. However, enrolling in a research study is voluntary.

Steroid-free protocols

Studies have shown that steroid use has side effects, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and weight gain. However, medical breakthroughs have made it possible to avoid steroids while still minimizing the chance of organ rejection. Approximately 80 percent of patients in our program are steroid-free.