Do You Need A Transplant?
Kidney transplantation is considered to be the preferred treatment for people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Although dialysis can help you maintain your kidney function, it only performs about 10% of the work a healthy kidney does, and can result in long term health problems such as anemia, heart disease, and infection. Also the life expectancy of someone living on dialysis is about half of someone who receives a deceased donor transplant. If you receive a kidney from a living donor, your life expectancy could be three times higher. If you are considering a transplant for yourself, or just want to learn more about it, we have many resources here that can teach you more about transplantation and what to expect.
We want to ensure our patients receive a transplant quickly, which means making sure they are healthy enough for a transplant and putting them on the wait list for a kidney as soon as possible. In the past, managing the many tests needed and collecting the results was hard for our patients’ primary care doctors and transplant program staff.
Our evaluation process is designed to eliminate many of the delays our patients may face when they are being evaluated for a transplant. It will look like this:
Once your kidney doctor refers you to our program for kidney transplant evaluation, you will have to come to our clinic at least three times:
- Kidney Transplant education class – Through the course of 1.5 hours you will learn about kidney transplantation, including what to expect before and after transplant
- Visit 1 – If after the class, you are interested in proceeding with transplant evaluation, we will arrange a visit 1 appointment. During your visit 1 you will meet the following team members:
- Transplant Coordinator who will give you a list of tests to complete
- Social Worker
- Financial Coordinator
- Visit 2 – During this visit you will meet the following team members:
- The transplant doctors (Surgeon and Kidney Doctor) who will determine if you need additional testing
If you don’t need any more testing, your coordinator will present your case to the transplant team, who will decide if you are a suitable transplant recipient. If you are a suitable candidate, you will be placed on the waiting list for a transplant or go ahead with transplant if you have an approved living donor.
For more information, please contact us at (207) 662-7180.
You can receive a living donor kidney from a spouse, a relative, a friend, or as part of a kidney swap if you and your donor are incompatible. Kidneys received from living donors bring with them many benefits for recipients.
- Because it is an elective procedure, the transplant surgery can be scheduled at the convenience of the living donor and the recipient.
- The recipients are able to avoid prolonged time on dialysis, and may be able to avoid dialysis altogether.
- Depending on the donor-recipient match, the recipient may need less immunosuppression.
- Kidneys from living kidney donors last longer.
- Recipients of living donor kidneys live longer.
We know it may be difficult to ask family and friends if they are interested in donating a kidney to you. Here are some suggestions to help you with your search:
- If anyone offers to give a kidney, thank them and tell them how to contact the transplant program.
- Bring family or friends to your transplant evaluation and re-evaluation appointments.
- Recruit an advocate who can talk to people for you about donating a kidney.
- Tell your family and friends the truth about your health problems and expected survival without a transplant.
- Spread the word at work (perhaps through Human Resources) and your church.
- If someone is uncertain about kidney donation, let us know and we can put them in contact with someone who has already donated.
- Let us decide if someone is healthy enough to be a donor.
- Do not rule someone out if they have the wrong blood type. We can sometimes arrange a living donor kidney swap.
- Keep your options open. Someone may offer to donate when you least expect it.
Check out our living donation page for more information.
If you need a kidney transplant, a kidney from a living donor is the best option for many reasons:
- You will not have to wait as long for a transplant
- You might be able to avoid going on dialysis
- Kidneys from living donors last longer
Unfortunately about 1/3 of patients who have someone willing to donate a kidney cannot receive it because they are not a medical “match” (or compatible). The Maine Transplant Program belongs to two national "kidney exchange programs” which exist to help these people. If someone needs a kidney transplant and has a living donor who is not medically compatible, they can register with these programs so that an “exchange” can be arranged with other living donor/kidney patients.
The Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) Program is run by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The Maine Transplant program was a founding member of the original regional exchange program that was the model used by UNOS to develop the current national program.
The National Kidney Registry(NKR) is a non-profit organization based in New York dedicated to the saving and improving the lives of people facing kidney failure by increasing the quality, speed, and number of living donor transplants in the world. This group has been more successful than UNOS in matching donors with recipients and promoting transplantation. The Maine Transplant Program joined the NKR in October 2013. If you would like more information, please contact us at (207) 662-7180.