Once you are placed on the waitlist, after the evaluation and activation process, the waiting time for transplantation depends upon several factors. If the donor is a living donor, then the wait is relatively brief.
If you are waiting for a deceased donor kidney, one from a person who has been declared brain dead, then the wait is dependent upon your:
- Blood type
- Most recent Percent Reactive Antibody (PRA) results
- HLA (tissue) typing and cross match
- Length of time on the waiting list
- Availability of donor kidneys (the wait can be from several months to several years).
After the evaluation and activation process you will be placed on the transplant wait list and registered with UNOS. All transplant candidates are notified that they have been listed with UNOS. All transplant candidates have the right to list in more than one center as long as the centers do not share the same Organ Procurement Organization (OPO). In addition, all candidates have the right to transfer wait time to another center. You will then remain on the list until you receive a transplant. Each month, your screening blood samples are sent to the tissue-typing lab to be available for cross matching when a possible deceased donor is found for you. In most cases, blood for these samples will be drawn by your dialysis nurse.
If you are on the waiting list for a deceased kidney, it’s important that you stay in close contact with the transplant team. A member of your transplant team will call you as soon as the kidney becomes available. The call may come anytime, day or night. Be prepared to get to the hospital quickly after you receive notice that the donor kidney has become available.
Living donation is an ideal alternative for individuals awaiting transplantation and increases the existing organ supply.
Important Notes about Living Donation:
- The Center for Transplant Services will coordinate the living donation process.
- Parents, children, siblings, other relatives, spouses and friends above the age of 21 can donate organs.
- Living non-directed (ex: stranger-to-stranger) donation is a newer and growing source of donors. Those wishing to look into what’s involved should contact us at 1-888-340-4448.
- Living donation lowers the candidate’s need to wait for a deceased donor. Transplant surgery can be scheduled at a mutually agreed upon time rather than performed as an emergency operation.
- Transplants from living donors have a longer graft life because there is a shorter period of time during which the kidney is without circulating blood.
- Some living-related donations have a higher rate of compatibility (are a “better match”) which can decrease the risk of organ rejection.
To qualify as a living donor, an individual must:
- Be over the age of 21
- Undergo a blood test to determine blood type compatibility with the candidate
- Undergo a medical history and a complete physical on evaluation day
This evaluation resembles that of the recipient. Gender and race are not factors in determining a successful match with a living donor.
The tests performed include:
- Tissue typing
- Antibody screening
- Urine tests and blood tests
- A CT Scan
Also, the prospective donor and recipient undergo a psychiatric and/or psychological evaluation. A transplant physician, nurse coordinator or social worker answers their questions and addresses any concerns they may have about the procedure.
The decision to become a living donor is a voluntary one, and the donor may change his or her mind at any time during the process. The donor’s decision and reasons are confidential. An independent living donor advocate will be assigned to all living donors to answer any questions that they may have and provide an extra level of support during the process.