There is a national transplant waiting list for people who are waiting for all types of transplants. Every 10 minutes, a new person is added to the list. Most of the people on the list are waiting for a kidney transplant. How long one has to wait is different for each person. The average time to wait for a kidney is 3-5 years. For some it might be shorter and for others it might be longer. You should ask your kidney care team to tell you about kidney transplantation as a treatment option for your kidney disease.
Most people on Hemodialysis or Peritoneal Dialysis can consider getting a kidney transplant. Some in CKD Stage 4 or 5 may be able to get a transplant and not have to go on any type of dialysis – this is called a pre-emptive transplant.
What are the Types of Kidney Transplants?
Living Donation is when a person donates a kidney to a friend or someone related to them. Living donated kidneys take away the long wait for a transplant. These kidneys usually function longer than a kidney from someone who has died.
A donor will be told about any risks related to donating a kidney. Living donors can live a healthy life with one kidney. They can apply for money to help cover travel and lodging. There are living donor assistance program such as, www.livingdonorassistance.org and www.transplantfoundation.org where the donor may find help. Help for a donor might include:
- Lost wages
- Travel expenses
- Food and lodging
- Hospital and physician charges
- Lab tests
- Child care
Paired/Exchange Donation may be an option for those who know someone who wants to donate a kidney. Sometimes the donor is cleared to donate but is not a good match for the patient. If this happens, the patient and donor may be able to enter into a paired kidney donation program. These programs pair the kidney and the patient with the best kidney match. This can start a “chain” of kidney donations. Ask the transplant team if they have a program like this. If they don't, they can tell you about transplant centers who do.
Deceased Donation is the most common form of kidney donation. These kidneys come from people who have died and donated their organs for transplant. These kidneys need to be transplanted soon after the donor has died. It is important for their family to know that they want to be a donor. If not, the family may decide not to donate their organs. Anyone can sign up to be an organ donor. Go to the link DonateLife America www.donatelife.net to find out more.
Altruistic Donation is when someone donates a kidney to any patient on the wait list. These kidneys might be given to a patient on the waitlist at a transplant center. They might used for a paired kidney transplant chain. These donors usually do not know the person they are giving a kidney to.
Pre-emptive Transplant is when a patient gets a transplant before they have to go on dialysis. Studies show this can result in better kidney and health outcomes. This type of transplant is more likely if a person has a living donor. The sooner you learn about your treatment choices, the better. This will give you time to decide if a transplant is best for you.
Find a Transplant Center
To find a transplant center in your area visit the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) website. Then follow these steps:
- Select "Transplant Centers by Organ" under Member Type
- Select "Kidney" for Organ Type
- Select your state or region
AAKP's Top Resources on Kidney Transplantation education
For more information on this topic, check out the following resources!
- Understanding Kidney Transplantation brochure
- Kidney Transplant Today e-newsletter*
- AAKP HealthLine webinars
- aakpRENALIFE magazine*
- AAKP Delicious! kidney-friendly recipes
- VIDEO, Northwestern Medicine -Inside the OR: Kidney Transplant Surgery
- CDC Fact Sheet on Kidney Disease (2021)
*Benefit of membership, join today!
The iChoose Kidney risk calculator is a tool that educates patients about the risk of available treatment options for kidney disease. This tool shows estimated risks of patient survival (probability of staying alive) and mortality (probability of dying) with different treatment options (dialysis or transplant)given the patient's demographic and clinical history at dialysis start.
My Dialysis Choice*
If you kidneys fail, dialysis can save your life. But, dialysis is not just a medical treatment. It can also affect every aspect of your lifestyle. This online tool will help you choose the right treatment for you, so you feel your best and live the way you want to.
*iChoose Kidney Risk Calculator is an online application tool created by a team of researchers at Emory University, funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number ULl TR000454 and KL2TR000455, and further supported through a grant from the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust Foundation (Emory University).
*My Dialysis Choice is an online application tool created by the non-profit Medical Education Institute.