Waiting for a Kidney on the Kidney Transplant List at Tampa General Hospital
Your transplant coordinator will ask for your permission to add your name to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) kidney transplant waiting list if our Medical Review Board has approved you as a transplant candidate and we have received approval from your insurance company. This includes adding personal information – such as your name, address, cell/phone number, blood type, body size, and health status – to the UNOS national database.
The kidney allocation plan utilized by UNOS has been in place for more than 20 years, but other plans are being reviewed and recommended to improve the system. In the current system, you will be placed on the kidney transplant list as either Active (status 1, 5, or 6) or Inactive (status 7) and begin accruing wait time. When a donor becomes available, the candidate on the kidney transplant list who has the longest wait time (and matches the blood and tissue typing of the donor) will be selected as the recipient.
Kidneys can be obtained from living or non-living donors. Living donors are typically family members or close friends who have a compatible blood type and are in good health. For this type of transplant, there is no waiting period because the surgery can be scheduled in advance, and the patient has no need to undergo the normal matching process. Additionally, the donated organs tend to last longer.
When willing donors don’t match the blood type of their intended recipient, kidney paired donation matches are sometimes performed to match one incompatible donor/recipient pair with another. In these “kidney chains,” the donor of the first pair gives a kidney to the recipient of the second pair, and vice versa. For more information about paired donation, talk with physician or kidney transplant coordinator.
When a compatible living donor can’t be found for a patient on the transplant list, a kidney can be obtained from a deceased organ donor. The kidney will be matched according to your tissue and blood type, and it will need to fit into your body nearly the same as your original organ.
If you receive a kidney from someone other than a relative or friend, you will not receive any personal details about the organ donor, but you and your family may express your gratitude by writing a letter to the donor or the donor’s family if you are so inclined. You shouldn’t include your last name or other personal details in this letter, and the nurse coordinator will send your letter to the family through LifeLink Foundation, Inc., our organ procurement organization.
While you are on the kidney transplant list, you will need to:
Attend dialysis and nephrologist appointments regularly
Maintain an active lifestyle
Eat nutritious meals and follow any diet guidelines
Abstain from using nicotine, alcohol, and other substances
Tell us immediately if your insurance changes
You can click here to learn more about kidney transplant preparations, and click here to see some of the most frequently asked questions posed by patients on the kidney transplant list.
Contact Tampa General Hospital for more information about our kidney transplant program. Call 1-800-505-7769 (press 5 for the kidney transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator), or call the coordinator directly at (813) 844-8686.