A kidney transplant is offered to people who have end-stage renal disease or those who are rapidly approaching end-stage renal disease, who would receive a preemptive transplant. The Hume-Lee Transplant Center will perform a comprehensive evaluation to determine your transplant candidacy. Your dedicated team of experts will guide you through the evaluation process. This team includes:
- Transplant coordinator: This nurse will discuss transplantation and answer any questions you may have. Your coordinator will be your contact until you have your transplant.
- Transplant nephrologist: This doctor will follow you before and after your transplant. The doctor will complete a physical exam and discuss with you what tests are needed for you to have a transplant.
- Financial coordinator: This professional will meet with you to discuss your insurance coverage.
- Social worker/psychologist: These professionals meet with you to assess your readiness for a transplant.
- Transplant surgeon: This highly-specialized doctor will evaluate you prior to surgery and will perform your transplant surgery.
At the time of your initial appointment, you will meet many of the team members. You will be given a large amount of information that day, and we recommend that you bring a family member or friend with you. The initial appointment may last several hours.
All individuals must have the following tests:
- HLA and blood typing to match a kidney to you
- Laboratory tests for infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis B or C
- Chest X-ray and EKG (electrocardiogram) to be performed at our hospital
- Dental clearance
- Tuberculosis skin test (PPD)
- Pap smear and baseline mammogram (women)
Additional tests may be required during or after the initial evaluation, depending upon your medical history. Additional tests and images may include:
- Possible ultrasound of your gallbladder to check for gallstones
- Possible voiding cystourethrogram to see if your bladder empties normally
- Heart testing such as echocardiogram, stress thallium test or cardiac catheterization if there is a history of heart disease, any heart-related illnesses or diabetes, or you are over age 50
- Colonoscopy to check for cancer
Once you have completed the medical evaluation and are found to be an acceptable candidate for transplant, your information is sent to your insurance company for approval. Once we have obtained financial clearance, your name will be placed on the waiting list. Your transplant coordinator will notify you and your dialysis center or nephrologists.
Listing with UNOS
Once your renal disease has progressed to the point that your kidneys are no longer able to perform the normal functions of a healthy kidney, you will be “listed” — meaning you have been placed on a national waiting list for a deceased donor kidney transplant.
A frequently asked question is “How long will I wait for a kidney?” Unfortunately, we cannot determine that exactly. National waiting time is currently four to six years on average. The United Network for Organ Sharing designates how deceased organs are distributed. Waiting times vary from patient to patient due to individual medical conditions, genetic characteristics and sensitivity of the patient.
Once you are on the transplant list, you will need to be seen yearly to update your tests and ensure you remain healthy for a kidney transplant.
Your transplant coordinator will send a letter notifying you, your dialysis center and your nephrologist when you have been listed.