Once you have decided to pursue kidney transplant under the guidance of your nephrologist, there are several steps to take before you can be considered a candidate for transplant.
Referral to Transplant Center
At the Nephrology Associates of Greater Cincinnati, we are able to refer you to a local transplant center. There are two kidney transplant centers in the greater Cincinnati area: the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and the Christ Hospital Health Network.
In choosing a kidney transplant center, it is important to consider:
- The location of the center in relation to your home
- Transportation assistance
- Your insurance company’s preferred providers
- Insurance versus out of pocket costs
- The number and type of transplants performed at that center
- Availability of support groups and recovery resources
You can also choose to be on both kidney transplant centers’ waiting lists.
Once you and your nephrologist have selected one or more transplant centers, you will start the evaluation process. Your kidney transplant team needs to conduct a thorough evaluation to make sure you are eligible to undergo the procedure, which is why this process can take several months.
You’ll start with an initial visit to the transplant center, where they’ll go over the transplant process with you, review your medical records, and discuss your needs. Every center has its own processes, but you can expect the following as a standard part of the evaluation:
- Review of medical and surgical history
- Physical and psychosocial exams to determine if you are physically and emotionally prepared for kidney transplant
- Blood and tissue compatibility tests to find a suitable kidney
You may also be asked to have blood tests, a cancer screening, chest X-ray, or other tests depending on your specific conditions.
Once all testing is completed, your transplant care team will meet to discuss the results and determine if you are a kidney transplant candidate. You will be contacted when the team has made a decision. In the event that you do not qualify for transplant, you care team can help you determine next steps for you to become a kidney transplant candidate or pursue other treatment options.
If you are deemed a candidate for transplant, you will be placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waitlist for a kidney. UNOS is an organization that lists all individuals in the U.S. waiting for transplant, and works to distribute donor organs fairly and transparently. They use only medical and logistical factors in finding a kidney match.
The general wait time is three to five years, though a suitable match may be found sooner or later than average. There are many factors that influence wait time, including the available kidneys, your blood and antibody type, how long you’ve had kidney failure, and where you live. Your transplant care team can give you a better understanding of the timeline in your area.
When a kidney is found, you will need to respond quickly. Talk to your transplant team about next steps for kidney transplant before a match is found so you can have a plan in place ahead of time.