Kidney Transplants: Ins and Outs of “The List”
“The List.” These two words can throw kidney disease patients into a whirlwind of anxiety and confusion. The highly experienced team at the Crozer-Keystone Regional KidneyTransplant Center at Crozer-ChesterMedicalCenter provides assistance and support for patients who have been placed on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.
When patients are diagnosed with kidney disease, they are evaluated to see which treatment is right. If a kidney transplant is an option, they will be placed on the national kidney transplant waiting list. Multiple tests and analyses are done to determine if a patient should be placed on the waiting list. These tests are done for the safety of the patient and ensure that a kidney transplant is the best option for the patient. A patient may receive a donor kidney from a deceased or living donor, and doctors will chose the donor carefully in order to avoid unsatisfactory medical and psychological outcomes.
“Once patients are evaluated and found to be eligible for a kidney transplant, they are placed on the national kidney transplant list. Our team of caring individuals has worked with more than 1,000 transplanted patients and can assist and answer any questions a patient may have along the way. We are aware that the waiting period can be frustrating and patients are encouraged to contact us with any questions or concerns that are bothering them,” says John Daller, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, director of the Crozer-Keystone Regional Kidney Transplant Center.
It’s not always fun to wait, especially when it comes to something as vital as a kidney transplant. Crozer-Keystone’s transplant team, however, is available to patients during this wait period. A patient can be on the waiting list anywhere from several months to several years. It is stressed that there is no “top of the list” and the order of the list is constantly changing.
Several factors are looked into when determining who will receive the kidneys that are available. These factors include blood type, tissue type and cross match. Cross match is a test that makes sure the patient does not have antibodies that would cause them to reject certain donor organs quickly. The biggest factor is that patients make sure they are evaluated as soon as possible, usually when reaching Stage 4 kidney disease, so that they can be placed on the transplant list and start the waiting process.
There are many things patients can do while waiting for a kidney transplant. The transplant team asks that patients stay as healthy as possible, including monitoring their diet and exercise; stay in contact with the transplant team; pack a bag and prepare their plans for getting to the hospital; and notify the transplant team about changes in contact information and plans for trips or vacations.
Communication with the transplant team regularly is critical for patients who are waiting for a kidney. Accessibility is key because once a patient is notified that a donor kidney is available for transplant, the process can be completed within a few hours or up to 24 hours.
“It is crucial that patients keep up with their healthcare issues while on the waiting list. When the time comes for your transplant, you do not want to find out that you cannot receive the transplant because some other health issue was found,” Daller says. “The transplant team becomes a patient’s advocate and partners with their primary care doctor to make sure the patient receives all of the tests and procedures they need even if they are unrelated to their kidneys.”
The Crozer-Keystone Kidney Transplant Team encourages patients to find the method that is right for them to control or manage stress and stay as active as their conditions will permit. They urge patients to continue to do normal activities, and even consider doing things they always wanted to do.
Another option to consider is support groups that can ease your mind and help you to connect with other people who are also waiting for a transplant and facing some of the same concerns. Crozer-Keystone’s transplant team can assist patients in finding the right support group.
For more information about Crozer-Keystone Regional Kidney Transplant Center please visit www.CrozerKidney.org or call (610) 619-8420. Read more about the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and the national waiting list at www.unos.org.