Kidney transplantation in obese patients

I got this email and I’m posting it just for general information, in case anyone needs to know about kidney transplants and where to check into them if they’re fat.

It is with great interest that I found your website. Three (not sure what the time period here is, I’m assuming years[mod note]) ago, we realized that obese patients are denied access to transplantation by the vast majority of transplant centers. We developed a new robotic technique that makes it possible to do a kidney transplant through a very small incision and avoid the risk of wound complications seen so often in obese patients. To date we have done over 50 of such transplants in very obese patients, with great outcomes. We also realize that very few know about this, and was wondering whether you want to help us reach out to the community to let them know that you do not have to stay on dialysis just because you are overweight. We can safely do a kidney transplant, in particular if the patient has a living donor.

Please, let me know how we could help you get the message out.

Sincerely yours

Jose Oberholzer

University of Illinois at Chicago

Jose Oberholzer, MD
C.&B. Frese and G. Moss Professor of Transplant Surgery, Bioengineering
and Endocrinology
Chief, Division of Transplantation (MC 958)
840 South Wood Street CSB (Rm 402)
Chicago, Illinois 60612

Phone: +1 312 996 6771
Fax: +1 312 413 3483
Cell phone: +1 312 848 9749

I’m emailing Dr Oberholzer to let him know I posted his email on FDNH.

Leave a comment


  1. A friend of mine died a year or so ago because the doctors refused to give him a kidney transplant. He was on dialysis and trying to lose weight, when a doctor gave him too much painkiller during a routine procedure and he died. He wasn’t even 25.

    I am very very glad to hear of the work being done at UIC, I only wish my friend had been able to take advantage of it. Thanks Dr. Oberholzer.

  2. wriggles

     /  March 9, 2012

    Seconded, well done to all involved.

  3. This is great news for all people of weight who need transplants. Thanks, Dr. Oberholzer and your team.

  4. v-slice

     /  March 9, 2012

    I’m so happy and proud to hear about size acceptance in medicine in my hometown 🙂

  5. Sata

     /  March 9, 2012

    Excellent news. I will likely need a kidney transplant at some stage in the future as I have PKD. I hope this technique spreads across the world, as I’m in a different country.

  6. It’s been one of my pet peeves for years that fat people are denied access to many transplants and other procedures because of weight. Often this is justified by doctors by pointing to data that shows we have higher rates of wound complications, but this is often because doctors routinely UNDERDOSE with antibiotics by using standardized dosing instead of weight-based dosing. Improve dosing and differences in outcomes begin to level out.

    To be fair, decisions on who gets transplants are very complex ones, and there are many variables that go into such a decision. It’s a very difficult decision, and doctors have to consider many factors. But for far too long, there was just a kneejerk, automatic denial to fat patients unless they lost a great deal of weight first, based on assumptions about “poor habits” and an assumed lack of responsibility about health. Yet recent research instead shows that transplantation is a real option for fat people too.

  7. Amy

     /  June 14, 2012

    This made me teary, in a good way. Probably partially because I’m pregnant, but also because it is just such a good letter … Straight forward and helpful. They found a problem that affects obese people. They found a solution instead of blaming fat people for being fat, and dismissing them. “We’re in the medical field and want to help people” — no unspoken except X group who we dislike or did disgusting, or…


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