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Challenges of Getting onto The Kidney Transplant List

Challenges of Getting onto The Kidney Transplant List

Getting on the Kidney Waiting List is a long and challenging process. Initially you need to ask your kidney doctor if a kidney transplant is a good option for you. If your doctor says yes, they will refer you to a Transplant Center in your area.  At your initial appointment with the Transplant Team, you will meet with several members of the Team (Kidney Doctor, Nurse Coordinator, Social Worker, Dietician, etc.) and will be given a full health evaluation to be evaluated to determine if you are healthy enough for transplant surgery.

As part of the evaluation, you will need to visit the Transplant Center several times to have various tests and exams. The process may take days, weeks or even months and requires lots of planning. The test results will help the Transplant Team decide if you are ready and healthy enough to have a kidney transplant surgery.  If your Transplant Team approves you for a kidney transplant, you will be placed on the Kidney Transplant Waiting List for a Deceased Kidney Donor.  The average Waiting List time is between 3-7 years.

It’s critically important for anyone on a Kidney Transplant Waiting List to recognize that being on the Waiting List is a “race against time”.  During your yearly re-evaluation and any necessary medical tests that need to be updated, any unforeseen and unexpected medical issues that may arise can potentially result in you being temporarily or permanently removed from the Kidney Transplant Waiting List.  The Transplant Team is committed to achieving success with every patient that receives a new kidney.  If there are medical issues and concerns, the Transplant Team will not risk giving you a new kidney because you are considered a “high risk” and therefore not a Transplant Candidate.

Finding a Living Donor is solely the responsibility of the patient and not the Transplant Department.  Each year on the Kidney Transplant Waiting List requires the patient to be seen at the Transplant Center for a re-evaluation, blood work and any medical tests that need to be updated.  Many factors are involved in your waiting time to be considered to receive a kidney from a Deceased Donor such as your geographical location, blood/tissue type, length of time on dialysis, your age, current health status, etc.

There are different types of deceased donor kidneys. Standard criteria donors (SCD) are people who died under age 50, and their kidneys are in high demand.  Expanded criteria donors (ECDs) are people who died either:

  • At age 60 or older
  • Between the ages of 50 and 59 with two of these problems:
  • Had high blood pressure
  • Had less than normal kidney function, based on an eGFR test
  • Died because of a stroke

ECD kidneys may be available sooner than SCD kidneys, and can still help you live longer and improve your quality of life. If one ECD kidney does not work well enough by itself, you may be able to get a transplant of two ECD kidneys (dual kidney transplant). The kidneys can work together as well as one healthy kidney.  Talk to your transplant center to find out if an ECD kidney or dual kidney transplant is an option for you.





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