Waiting for Kidney Transplant

Due to the critical shortage of deceased donors, adults can wait on the UNOS list for many years before being transplanted. Your wait for a kidney may depend on the availability of organs, your blood type, your tissue type, and your level of preexisting anti-HLA antibodies. For current information please visit the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.  Emory’s wait list team will help guide you through the process.

Once you have been listed, your dialysis unit or doctor's office will send a monthly blood sample to Emory. This sample is used to check your compatibility with any potential donor kidneys that become available. To remain eligible for a transplant, it is necessary to send in this blood sample every month.

Remember that a kidney can become available at any time, and your transplant team must be able to get in touch with you. Since the donor kidney can only be preserved for a limited amount of time before transplantation, we must be able to contact you quickly so the kidney does not get too old and unsuitable for transplant. You must keep the transplant team updated with any changes in your phone numbers, address, health status, and how to contact you if you are out of town. If the transplant team cannot reach you in a timely manner when a kidney becomes available, the next suitable candidate on the list will be offered the kidney. A list of frequently asked questions regarding the wait list process is available for your reference.

Anxiety is Normal

Helpful ways of coping with the stress of waiting for a kidney may include:

  • Keeping up your normal daily routines as much as possible
  • Talking with someone on your team to help sort out your feelings. This could include your transplant coordinator, social worker, or physician. While waiting for a transplant, just "checking in" with your coordinator on a regular basis allows you to get questions answered and talk about any anxiety you may be having.
  • Contacting the Georgia Transplant Foundation's Mentor Project. This program has been developed to match people who are new to the world of transplantation with people who are living with a transplant. You can get more information on the Mentor Project during your evaluation.

Additionally, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) provides a toll-free patient services line to help transplant candidates, recipients, and family members understand organ allocation practices and transplantation data. You may also call this number to discuss problems with your transplant center or the transplantation system in general. The toll-free patient services number is 1-888-894-6361.