At PinnacleHealth we are proud of our transplant patient outcomes. We are committed to working successfully with patients through the entire transplant process, from evaluation through transplant and after care.
Who is eligible?
Candidates for kidney transplantation are individuals with advanced kidney disease related to a number of illnesses, including diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney inflammation, polycystic kidneys and other conditions. Patients may be considered for transplant if they have an estimated kidney function less than 20 percent, or if they are on dialysis.
Once a patient is identified as a potential kidney transplant candidate, he or she will have an evaluation performed. This process includes several steps:
- Step 1: Transplant education class, including a review of the evaluation procedure, surgery and after care.
- Step 2: Medical history review, a physical exam, a social evaluation, blood draw for tissue typing and viral screens, and a financial review.
- Step 3: Completion of required tests/procedures to determine if transplant is the best option. These tests may also identify potential problems that can be addressed prior to surgery.
- Step 4: Test results are reviewed by transplant coordinator, staff, and doctors.
- Step 5: Presentation of evaluation results to the Transplant Selection Committee for approval or denial.
- Step 6: Once approved, the patient is placed on the national organ transplant list.
The waiting time for a deceased donor kidney is an average of four to six years. Patients waiting for a kidney need to stay healthy, remain in touch with the clinic and be easily reached at all times in case an organ becomes available.
Living Donor Transplant
At PinnacleHealth we specialize in living donor transplant. This type of transplant occurs when a living person volunteers to donate one of their kidneys to another person in need. Any person that is in good health can be evaluated as a potential living donor. Living donor transplantation has several advantages including reduced waiting time, longer organ life and convenience for the transplant recipient.
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 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. 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.
Remember that you will need to take special medicines, called immunosuppressive or anti-rejection medications, following your transplant surgery to help prevent your body from rejecting your newly transplanted organs. It is necessary to take these medications exactly as the doctor prescribes for the rest of your life.
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.