Who is Eligible for a Kidney or Kidney/Pancreas Transplant?
To receive a kidney, a patient must be in kidney failure, also called end-stage kidney (or renal) disease. They have to be identified as being in renal failure and evaluated to see if they are a good candidate for surgery.
Because of the risks involved, pancreas transplant surgery is rarely done alone. It is almost always done when someone with type 1 diabetes also needs a kidney transplant.
The Evaluation Process
A team of experts interviews the patient and their family to identify any issues that would prevent a patient from having a successful transplant. Extensive lab work is completed to check all of the patient’s body systems. The doctors will also test for heart problems, cancers and infections.
Once the team has the results of the lab work, they will determine if the patient needs to “fix” anything before receiving a transplant. If the patient has a condition like heart disease, the medical staff will try to determine if the problem can be remedied so the patient can be eligible for a transplant.
The team will also investigate the patient’s insurance coverage to ensure that the cost of caring for a transplanted kidney or pancreas won’t be overwhelming. The cost of medications can be as much as $4000 a month.
Once the patient has been identified as a suitable transplant candidate, their name will be put on the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) list, a national database that assists in organ sharing among transplant centers.
While on the list, the patient should try to stay healthy, exercise and maintain stamina. It is also important for the transplant recipient to keep the hospital informed of any health issues that arise, so that when the organ becomes available the patient will be healthy enough to receive the transplant.