Being the recipient of a kidney transplant is the opportunity for a new start in life. Transplant can be done before you need to start dialysis or you may start dialysis while you wait for a kidney transplant. A successful kidney transplant depends on how:

  • healthy you are before the transplant.
  • you take care of yourself after the transplant.
  • closely you follow your doctors orders after transplant.

Preparing for transplant

  1. Tell your physician you are interested in a kidney transplant. Your physician must give you a referral. Your multidisciplinary team with notify the transplant center.
  2. The transplant center will contact you to schedule an appointment for evaluation and find out if you are a good candidate for transplant.
  3. During the evaluation, ask questions to learn as much as possible about the transplant center and it's team.
  4. Complete all necessary evaluations and tests as requested by the transplant team in a timely manner.
  5. Once all necessary evaluations and tests are completed, your transplant team will meet and determine your final eligibility. 
  6. If the hospital's transplant team team determines you are a good transplant candidate, they will add you to the national waiting list.
  7. You and your physician will receive notification of your final eligibility. 

Waitlist for transplant

The waiting list is a computer system that stores medical information for every person waiting for an organ transplant in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. When a deceased donor organ becomes available, information about that organ is entered into the computer system. The system then generates a match run, which is a list of candidates who might be a good match for that organ.

To determine a potential match, the system looks at factors like:

  • Blood type
  • Tissue type
  • Medical urgency
  • Body size
  • Distance from donor hospital to recipient hospital
  • Waiting time
  • Donor/recipient immune system compatibility
  • Prior living donor
  • Survival benefit
  • Pediatric status

Living donor transplants are an available alternative for patients in need of new organs. With so few organs available for transplantation, living donation is the best way we have to continue to save lives. Transplanting organs from a living donor is the best means of donation because of the following benefits:

  • The quality of organs that are donated by living donors is usually better than organs from deceased donors. These organs last nearly twice as long.
  • The waiting time for a patient needing a transplant can be significantly shorter.
  • The procedure can be scheduled at a time that's convenient for both the donor and recipient.
  • The time between removing the organ (or part of the organ) and transplanting it in the recipient is less.
  • There is a lower chance of rejection. Also, the organ recipient will need fewer and lower doses of anti-rejection medication.

Life after transplant

After receiving your transplant, you will continue to work closely with your transplant team, who will play an active role in your recovery. Although living with a transplant will give you a new lease on life, caring for a healthy organ involves taking sensible steps to recover fully and return to a normal, active lifestyle.

Transplant candidates often take many medications each day. By weakening or reducing your immune system’s responses to foreign material, these drugs reduce your immune system’s ability to reject a transplanted organ. These drugs also allow you to maintain enough immunity to prevent overwhelming infection. Some degree of rejection occurs with every transplant, but how clinically significant the rejection depends on the individual. Symptoms include:

  • Pain/tenderness over the transplant site
  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms such as chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, headache, dizziness and body aches and pains
  • Change in pulse rate
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling
  • Less urine

Call your doctor as soon as you experience any of them.