Most people who have kidney transplants get their new kidney from a deceased donor. A deceased donor is someone who has just died. This person or their family members decided to donate healthy organs at the time of death in order to benefit people who need transplants. No matter how the person died, his or her kidney will only be given to you if it is healthy and likely to work in your body.

On average, deceased kidney donor transplants last 10-15 years. Your transplanted kidney might work for less time or more time. How long your kidney will last depends on many factors, but the most important is how well you take care of it. To help your new kidney last as long as possible, you must take your medicine every day, as many times a day as your doctor tells you, and at the times your doctor tells you. Skipping your medicine can cause your new kidney to stop working.

Before you can have a living donor kidney transplant, you will need to have an evaluation at your transplant center. The evaluation will help the transplant team figure out if transplant is a good option for you. If the transplant team decides you are healthy enough for a transplant, you may be added to the national waitlist.

Click here for more information about the transplant evaluation process.

Click here for more information about getting listed and choosing a transplant center.

Waiting for a deceased donor kidney

Most people wait for three to five years for a kidney transplant from a deceased donor. You might wait for more time or less time. Your wait time might depend on where you live, the availability of a matching kidney in your area, how long you have been on dialysis, your age, and more. Ask your doctor for more information about the things that can affect your wait time.

If a kidney becomes available from a deceased donor, you will get a phone call from the transplant center asking you to come to the hospital right away. It is very important that you are always reachable by phone. If you intend to travel, tell your transplant team about your travel plans.

When you arrive at the hospital, you will have blood tests to make sure that the kidney is a good match for you. Sometimes people get to the hospital and, after having these tests, have to return home because the donor kidney is not a good match. The transplant could also be canceled if the doctors find something is wrong with the donor kidney. If you are called to the transplant center and then cannot have a transplant, try not to be discouraged. You might get another call soon!