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Historic children's kidney transplant performed in Barcelona

Crossover transplant involving team from Sant Joan de Déu and Clínic Hospitals is first of its kind in Spain 


17 March 2021 07:18 PM


ACN | Barcelona

A surgical team from two Barcelona hospitals - Sant Joan de Déu and Clínic - have performed Spain's first crossover kidney transplant from an incompatible blood group involving a child.

The patient, an eight-year-old girl called Candela from Esplugues de Llobregat on the outskirts of the Catalan capital, was diagnosed at the age of twenty months with a genetic nephrotic syndrome that caused progressive renal failure.

Candela had received a previous transplant in 2016, when she was four years old, which failed; doctors had to remove the organ 24 hours after the operation.

That operation generated a lot of antibodies and made it even more difficult to find an immunologically compatible donor that would prevent the body from rejecting a new kidney.

Crossover transplant program

Candela was included in the crossover transplant program, which offers incompatible donor-recipient couples the opportunity to exchange organs.

The girl's father, Albert, gave his kidney to a donor from Seville, who although from an incompatible blood group, was compatible with Candela from an immunological point of view, unlike any of the girl's family members.

The National Transplant Organization (ONT) has performed seven such transplants in Spain, but until now, only involving adults. With children, it is more difficult to find donors and, when a compatible adult donor is found, there is the additional surgical complexity of fitting an adult's organ into a child's body.

As well as a being a challenge from a surgical point of view, the operation, or rather, operations were logistically complex, with organs being flown between Seville and Barcelona.

Normal life

Before the transplant, Candela had to undergo regular dialysis sessions for four years, three times a week at first and, since 2019, a trip to the hospital every day.

Today, Candela has made a full recovery and is living a normal life. All she has to do is take some medication and go for check-ups.

Her father Albert said that although she "has only had the transplanted kidney for a short time, we've noticed a huge change in her overall health and quality of life."


  • Eight-year-old Candela, her father and one of the doctors involved in the historic operation (Sant Joan de Déu Hospital)

  • Eight-year-old Candela, her father and one of the doctors involved in the historic operation (Sant Joan de Déu Hospital)