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Does A Kidney Transplant Surgery Always Happen With a Deceased Kidney Donor

Does A Kidney Transplant Surgery Always Happen With a Deceased Kidney Donor

If a kidney is available from a deceased donor, you will get a phone call from the transplant center asking you to come to the hospital right away.  It is very important that you are always reachable by phone and can arrive at the hospital in a timely manner according to the timetable given to you by the Transplant Team.  If you are out of the area and cannot arrive to the hospital in the time allotted by the Transplant Team, you will forfeit the opportunity to receive the deceased donor kidney and it will be offered to another patient.  If you plan on traveling out of the area, tell your Transplant Team about any travel plans before you leave town. 

When you arrive at the hospital, you will have blood tests to make sure that the deceased donor kidney is a good match for you. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to be informed by the Transplant Team that the deceased donor kidney offered to you is not viable for transplant due to a variety of reasons and that the anticipated surgery is canceled.  As a patient depending upon a kidney transplant from a deceased donor, you need to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself that your excitement and enthusiasm might be short-lived once you arrive at the hospital.  Reasons for your surgery to be cancelled are:

  • Tests show the donor kidney is not a good match for the recipient
  • Something is wrong with the donor kidney

Consider looking for a living donor while you wait

While you wait for a deceased donor transplant, consider looking for a living donor. A living donor kidney transplant is always a better option for anyone on a Kidney Transplant Waiting List.  There are many advantages to getting a kidney from a living donor, including:

  • Transplant can happen sooner: A living donor transplant may happen as soon as both you and your donor are ready and are medically cleared for transplant.
  • The kidney has less chance of rejection: Living donor kidneys have a better chance of being accepted by the recipient's immune system.
  • The kidney lasts longer: Living donor transplants last 15 to 20 years on average, compared to 8 to 15 years on average for deceased donor transplants.
  • A Living Donor Kidney begins to function immediately whereas the kidney from a deceased donor has the potential of not working right away and may take several days, week or even months to “wake up” and begin to function and produce urine. This situation may require you to do dialysis temporarily until the kidney begins to function.

Ask your doctor how a living donor transplant compares to a deceased donor transplant.  If you are called to the transplant center and then cannot have a transplant, try not to be discouraged. You might get another call soon!




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