Kidney Transplant Evaluation Process
A transplant evaluation is a big step on the kidney transplant journey. This evaluation is a set of medical tests and meetings with individuals at the transplant center that check to see if kidney transplant is a safe and helpful treatment option.
Here is what to expect from the kidney transplant evaluation process.
Schedule the evaluation
After the transplant center receives your referral from a care provider, they will contact you, on average, within 30 to 60 days. If you do not hear from them after that time, call the center to make an appointment.
Prepare for the evaluation
The transplant center may need to collect some information before your appointment, which could include:
- Past medical history
- A list of medications
- Recent lab results
Ask your dialysis social worker and doctor to help you gather this information. Also, bring a family member to the appointment to help write down notes.
What to bring for the evaluation
Here are some items to bring that can help you feel prepared on the day of the evaluation:
- A folder with the information requested by the transplant center plus important questions to ask at the evaluation
- Comfortable clothes and shoes
- Glasses and/or hearing aids
- Pen or pencil and notepad to take notes
- Kidney-friendly snacks and/or lunch
Bring a family member or friend for support. If you have a living donor in mind, let the transplant center know in advance of the evaluation appointment.
What to expect at the evaluation
The transplant evaluation goes a bit differently at every transplant center. Some centers will do your evaluation all in one long day. Other centers will do evaluation over multiple days. Either way, they usually have similar steps:
1. Meet the transplant team—which often includes a nephrologist, surgeon, transplant coordinator, social worker, dietitian, financial counselor and pharmacist.
2. Have blood tests taken
3. A medical exam—which may include a chest X-ray, CT scan, EKG, echocardiogram, colonoscopy, dental check and stress test (done on an exercise bike or treadmill).
What happens after the evaluation
Once your evaluation is complete, the transplant center team will get together to discuss your overall results. They will determine if a kidney transplant is safe for you. The next step depends on if you have a living donor or need to join the waiting list for a kidney from a deceased donor. If you are seeking a living donation, you can learn more on how to talk about this subject.
If you are looking to join the waiting list for a deceased donor kidney, the transplant center will usually come back with one of three possible results.
1. The transplant center will add you to the waiting list. Here is information to help you remain healthy while waiting for a kidney.
2. The transplant center will not add you to the waiting list. This does not necessarily mean it is the end of your journey. You may have options, such as:
- Ask your transplant center if you might be a candidate for living donation. Some centers have different rules for living versus deceased donation.
- Explore other transplant centers because they may have different rules. Talk to your social worker for referral to a new center.
3. The transplant center is not ready to add you to the list but has confirmed that you might be a candidate. There could be several reasons for this delay, such as needing more tests, needing to lose weight, needing a medical condition to get better, etc. Work closely with your transplant center and nephrologist to understand what you need to do to get on the list
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