Kidney Transplant Process
Once a patient is identified as a potential kidney transplant candidate, he or she will have an evaluation performed at the UW Hospital and Clinics. The patient will meet with a transplant surgeon who will gather information regarding their previous medical history. If the surgeon determines the patient is a candidate for transplant, more tests and labs will be ordered. The patient also meets with a financial consultant, a transplant coordinator, a social worker, and a dietitian who will answer their questions and provide them information.
If it is determined that the patient is a transplant candidate and he or she wishes to proceed, the patient is placed on the kidney transplant waiting list maintained by United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a nonprofit organization that matches organs to patients based on blood type, waiting time and HLA matching. This waiting period can last for days or years, based upon a patient's individual circumstance.
The call for the transplant can come any time of day or night. In most cases, the patient needs to be ready to leave home in two to three hours. The surgery typically takes approximately three hours and the patient is usually in the hospital from five to seven days, depending upon the recovery process. While recovering in the hospital, the patient will receive education about new medications, self-care and follow-up.
Transplantation is a lifelong commitment to follow-up care at the UW Hospital. The first year will require frequent lab testing and clinic visits. Initially, lab testing will be three times a week and will eventually decrease to once a month. Generally, the patient returns to the transplant clinic two weeks after hospital discharge for the first follow-up appointment, then three to five additional visits during the year. After the first year, frequency of clinic and laboratory visits decreases significantly, but will remain a lifetime commitment. The transplant team provides lifelong assessment and support with the hope that, after transplant, the patient can return to a normal, active and healthy life.