Once you have decided to seek a kidney transplant at the Kidney Transplant Program at Rush University Medical Center, the care team will perform a comprehensive pretransplant evaluation of you. This evaluation will help determine your fitness for a transplant and which donor kidney will be most compatible with you. The evaluation includes the following components:
- Blood typing. Blood is drawn to determine if you are blood type A, B, AB or O. The donor of the kidney must have a blood type that is compatible with yours.
- Tissue typing. Blood is drawn to look for specific markers called human leukocyte antigens. These markers are inherited from your parents. The more your markers match with those of the donor, the less likely your body is to reject the transplanted kidney. It is not necessary to be a match, though. Improvements in medicines have made it possible to successfully do transplants between people who do not share any of these markers.
- Crossmatching. This blood test is like a mini-transplant in a test tube. Some of the donor and recipient's blood is mixed together and monitored for a reaction that might prevent a successful transplant.
- Other blood tests. Several tubes of blood will be taken as you start the work-up process. Your blood will be tested for things like liver function, blood counts, hepatitis, HIV and other viruses that can be reactivated after transplant.
- Diagnostic exams. These exams may include a chest X-ray, a complete abdominal ultrasound, an electrocardiogram (EKG) and an echocardiogram. The chest X-ray provides information about your heart and lungs. The abdominal ultrasound shows your internal organs and identifies any abnormalities. The EKG records the activity of your heart to help determine if you have any heart problems, and the echocardiogram can determine how well your heart is working.
- Cardiology consultation. A cardiologist at Rush will assess you to rule out any heart problems before surgery. A stress test, which closely monitors your heart rate and rhythm while your heart is being stimulated, is required for all potential transplant patients.
- Social work evaluation. A transplant social worker will meet with you to assess your support system, gaps in insurance coverage or potential concerns about substance abuse or mental illness.
- Additional exams and tests. A dental exam is necessary to identify possible gum and tooth infection and disease. For women, an annual gynecological exam is required, including a Pap smear. For women who are 40 years or older, a mammogram is needed. Other consultations and tests may be ordered based on your specific medical history.
(Next: Waiting for a donor kidney)