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What to Expect

After you have a formal evaluation for kidney transplantation at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, our multidisciplinary screening committee decides if you are a candidate for a kidney transplant. Once you are determined to be a candidate, you are added to the United Network of Organ-Sharing (UNOS) waiting list. UNOS is the nonprofit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant systems. You must be on the waiting list even if you have a living donor available.

Your Position on the Kidney Waiting List

We cannot predict when a kidney from a deceased donor will become available for you. The waiting list is divided by the blood groups — A, B, O and AB. Every person is placed in his or her blood group while waiting for a deceased donor organ. Blood types between donors and recipients must be compatible. Certain blood types, such as B or O, usually have longer waiting times than others because of the scarcity of donors.

Some geographic regions have fewer organ donors than others, so patients in these regions wait longer for all types of transplants. Patients with antibodies to HLA antigens (structures on the transplanted kidney that your immune system recognizes as “foreign”) may also wait longer. For most people, the length of time spent on the waiting list determines when a kidney becomes available for them.

While you are waiting for a kidney to become available, we take monthly blood samples to send to the laboratory to test for antibodies. This is to make sure we have a current sample of your blood for cross-matching if a kidney becomes available for you. Your coordinator works with you or your dialysis center to arrange this monthly blood test.

How to Stay Active on the Waiting List

To remain active on the kidney transplant waiting list, you must:

  • Avoid non-prescribed drugs and tobacco
  • Follow all the recommendations from the multidisciplinary transplant team
  • Get regular laboratory tests
  • Keep all scheduled appointments

Communication with Our Transplant Team

After you are placed on the waiting list, please contact us right away if you are:

  • Admitted to another hospital
  • Cannot keep any scheduled appointments at the transplant center
  • Change your contact information, including address and phone numbers
  • Change your dialysis center
  • Change your insurance coverage, including prescription plans
  • Change your travel plans that would affect your ability to reach Lahey Hospital & Medical Center within two hours (in case a kidney becomes available for you)
  • Receive a diagnosis of an infection of any type
  • Visit the emergency room

You may contact your kidney transplant coordinator or another member of the transplant team.