Prepare for kidney transplant surgery while you are on the waiting list with advice from University Health experts.
Waiting for a Transplant
Placement on the national waiting list—managed by United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and supervised by the federal government—helps ensure that patients across the U.S. receive healthy organs as they become available. UNOS maintains a centralized computerized network to link organ procurement organizations with transplant centers.
Average Kidney Wait Time
Count on waiting an average of six years for a kidney at most centers. In some areas of the country, the wait could be longer.
When a kidney becomes available, certain factors determine if you will receive it. For example:
- Blood type – You must have the same A, B, AB or O blood type as the deceased donor
- Tissue type (genetic matching) – You are more likely to receive the organ if you and the donor are a perfect match.
- Crossmatch – You must not have antibodies against the donor organ that could cause rejection
While You’re on the Waiting List
Use your waiting period to prepare for transplant surgery. Make sure to:
- Arrange transportation and housing in advance
- Attend a pre-transplant class at University Health
- Keep in touch with your transplant team
- Notify us of any changes in telephone, address or insurance
- Let us know if you’re going out of town and how to reach you
- Have a family member tell us if you’re admitted or discharged from the hospital, or if you have a blood transfusion
- Pack a bag for the hospital or have a list ready of what to pack
- Put together a transportation plan with a designated driver to the hospital, and have a backup driver
- Schedule annual dental exams
- Stay as healthy as you can
Self-Care While Waiting
Maintain your best quality of life while waiting by combining good nutrition with exercise. Continue to see your doctor or specialist as needed.
Be as active as you can while you wait for a kidney transplant. Walking is the best exercise to maintain your health and fitness. Work up to walking for 30 minutes, three times each week. Being in good physical condition supports a quicker, smoother recovery from surgery.
Lead a normal life during the waiting period. Although it can be a difficult time for you, honest communication with your family members can help reduce frustration and tension.
If you or your family have trouble coping emotionally during your wait, seek help from a local mental health professional or contact your transplant social worker.
Count on your transplant dietitian to give you general nutritional advice and suggest strategies to manage your symptoms. Following a healthy diet before transplant surgery means you may have fewer complications, spend less time on a ventilator after surgery and have a shorter recovery time.
Call 911 if you have a life-threatening emergency while waiting for a transplant. Do not try to drive to University Health. Ask the emergency room doctors to consult with your University Health transplant team.