Once patients are approved by the transplant team and have financial clearance, they are placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list. UNOS is the agency authorized by the federal government to maintain the database for all transplant recipients in the United States.
The length of time patients wait before receiving an organ varies greatly. Waiting time depends on several factors, including tissue and blood types, as well as organ availability. The average waiting time for a kidney transplant in this region is two to six years.
There are many things a patient can and should do while waiting for a kidney transplant, including:
- Consider living donation and share their story with friends and family to create an opportunity for potential living donors to come forward.
- Remember that patients and families are invited to attend the monthly kidney transplant support groups that take place the second Sunday of each month.
- Develop a strong community of support – a network of friends and family members who will be available to assist throughout the transplant process
- Continue to exercise regularly to promote endurance and faster recovery after transplant.
Kidney Becomes Available
When a suitable kidney becomes available through the donor process, the on-call nurse coordinator calls the patient, who is told to refrain from eating or drinking and to come directly to the hospital admissions office at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Upon arrival, the patient is admitted to the hospital room and the transplant team begins preparing for surgery. They complete paperwork, review medications, check vital signs and draw blood. Patients wait in their hospital room with their support team until it is time to go to the operating room.