Once your pretransplant evaluation is completed, the multidisciplinary kidney transplant care team at Rush will review your evaluation. If you meet the criteria for transplant and you have a living donor who has been cleared for donation, a date for surgery will be scheduled.
If you meet the criteria for transplant but do not have a living donor available, you will be placed on the waiting lists for a donor kidney. The lists are maintained by Gift of Hope (Illinois' organ bank) and the nationwide United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
Transplants from deceased donors are from a donor who has been declared brain dead and who registered to be an organ donor while still living or whose family gives consent to organ donation. Rush has been an active participant in both local and national organ-sharing programs for nearly 30 years. The surgical team at Rush is available on a 24-hour basis to respond to offers of organs for our patients. The majority of the deceased donor organs come through Gift of Hope, but organs may come from anywhere in the United States.
Organs are distributed fairly to patients on the waiting list. The allocation of organs depends on such factors as whether you and a potential donor have the same blood and tissue type, the amount of time you have been on the waiting list, and the presence of antibodies in your blood that could harm the transplanted organ or cause your body to reject it.
It is difficult to predict how long you will have to wait for a suitable donor organ. Most patients wait two to five years for a well matched kidney. If you have an unusual blood type or very common tissue-typing antigens, you may have a shorter wait. If you have had many blood transfusions, you may have a longer wait.
Some people choose to be listed at more than one transplant center, but that does not guarantee that you will receive a transplant sooner. Gift of Hope only allows patients to be listed at one transplant center in Illinois. If you want to investigate being listed at multiple centers, you should contact your insurance company to see which other centers might be an option.
Patients may transfer their primary waiting time from one transplant center to another center. It may be necessary to transfer centers for a number of reasons, such as a change of insurance carrier.
While you're waiting, live your life. The wait for your donor kidney can last several years. Don't wait until you have a transplant to live your life to its fullest.
(Next: Preparing for a transplant)