Before you know if you qualify for a kidney transplant, you must have a full health evaluation by a transplant team at a transplant center. The evaluation will help the transplant team decide if you are ready for the kidney transplant. If the transplant team decides you are ready, the next step will be for your transplant team to help you find a kidney match.
On the day of the evaluation, you and your family will meet the members of the transplant team. The evaluation may take only one day, or it could take several days.
You will need to have several health tests and exams at the transplant center before the transplant team can decide whether the surgery will be safe for you.
The tests you may need include:
- Blood and tissue type tests
- Tests for HIV and hepatitis
- Prostate exam (for men)
- Mammogram and Pap smear (for women)
- Heart and lung exams
- Kidney and liver tests
- Colon exam (colonoscopy)
Since a kidney transplant is a major life change, it is important that you are not only physically ready, but mentally ready, as well. The kidney transplant evaluation also requires a mental health evaluation. During the mental health part of the evaluation, you will meet with a transplant social worker who will make sure that you are mentally ready to have a kidney transplant, and able to follow all of the directions about caring for yourself and your new kidney.
The transplant team will also ask questions about your finances, your support system, and your health insurance policy to plan and prepare the best care for you. You and your family will get important information about preparing for the transplant, what to expect during the recovery period, and medicines you will need to take.
If your transplant team decides that you are ready for transplant after you finish the evaluation, you may be added to the national waiting list for a donor kidney. If you have a living kidney donor (a person who wants to donate their kidney to you), you may have your transplant as soon as both you and your donor are ready.
Sometimes the transplant team will decide that you are not ready for transplant if you have a health problem that could make the transplant surgery dangerous for you. If this happens, do not be discouraged, you can be evaluated again. Talk to your transplant team about what you can do to become ready for transplant.
Some problems that could keep you from having a transplant are:
- Having other serious health problems
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Untreated mental health disorders
- History of missing treatment sessions or not taking medicines as prescribed