Starting the Kidney Transplant Process: Answers to Seven Frequently Asked Questions

Kidney transplant patient appointment

Managing end-stage kidney disease can present many challenges and learning about kidney transplantation can seem overwhelming. To help people start exploring kidney transplantation, we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions about the kidney transplant process. 

Frequently asked questions about kidney transplantation

What’s the first step in the kidney transplant process?

Education is the first step. The best way to learn about kidney transplantation is to make an appointment for a kidney transplant evaluation with the Penn Kidney Transplant team. To schedule an appointment, call 215-662-6200.

You can also get more information about kidney transplant on:

Where does Penn offer kidney transplant evaluations?

Penn offers kidney transplant evaluations at five convenient locations:

What happens at the kidney transplant evaluation appointment?

The appointment begins with an education session with a Penn Transplant Nephrology Provider. After the education session you will meet one-on-one with the transplant nephrologist and a transplant nurse coordinator. You will also talk with a transplant dietician, a transplant social worker and a transplant financial coordinator. 

At our satellite locations, some of these consults will be done remotely via phone.

What happens after the kidney transplant evaluation?

After your evaluation appointment, your Penn Kidney Transplant team will meet at weekly conference to discuss the details of your case and determine if transplant is expected to be the best treatment for your kidney disease or if dialysis is a more beneficial option. 

It’s not uncommon for the team at this time to request additional testing to make sure kidney transplant will be safe for you. Once this testing is complete and the team determines that transplant is the best treatment option, your name is added to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) transplant waiting list.

How long is the wait for a kidney in the greater Philadelphia region?

Once your name is added to the UNOS transplant waiting list, the wait for a deceased donor kidney is four to six years. It’s important to note, however, that your waiting time begins from your dialysis start date, not your kidney transplant evaluation date. 

To shorten the wait time, it’s recommended that patients explore live donor kidney transplantation by talking with friends and family about their need for a kidney and the option of receiving a kidney from a living donor.

What happens while I am on the transplant waiting list?

While you are on the kidney transplant waiting list, you will meet at least once a year with the Penn Kidney Transplant team. 

To stay ready for kidney transplantation, it’s important to continue with all annual medical recommendations. Make sure you consistently go to dialysis treatments and stay for the entire treatment. 

If there are changes in your health, with your contact information or with your health insurance information, it’s critical that you update the Penn Kidney Transplant team. Good communication is key to staying ready for your kidney transplant. Your Penn kidney transplant coordinator can be reached at 215-662-6200.

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The Penn Medicine Transplant blog features short postings with news about the transplant program at Penn Medicine, notices about upcoming events and health information. Subscribe to the blog and stay connected with Penn's Transplant Program!

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