Prepare for Your Transplant

Navigating medical insurance, logistics, complex medical decisions, and lifestyle changes can be challenging as you plan for your transplant. Let us guide and support you every step of the way.

Making complex medical decisions can be challenging as you plan for your transplant. Let us guide and support you.

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Your Transplant Journey

Become Eligible for Transplant

  • Verify eligibility based on eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate) and creatinine levels through blood tests, typically requiring an eGFR of 20% or a creatinine level around 2.8.

  • Collect and organize required medical test results, including cancer screenings, as part of the pre-transplant work-up process to ensure readiness for evaluation.

  • Consider ordering the Creatinine blood test to assess eligibility for the transplant list earlier, especially if nearing the threshold levels.

Find and Apply to Hospitals with Shorter Waiting Times

  • Utilize Transplant Coach to understand waiting times by kidney transplant centers and submit applications to maximize your listing options.

  • Be aware of the accumulating waiting time per center, which starts from either the date of dialysis initiation or the listing date, whichever occurs earlier.

Attend Evaluation at the Transplant Center

Meet your Transplant Team:

  • The Financial Coordinator verifies insurance coverage and facilitates pre-authorization for transplant.

  • The Social Worker evaluates mental and emotional preparedness for the transplant journey and provides necessary support and resources.

  • The Nephrologist confirms the kidney condition and assesses overall health status to determine transplant candidacy.

  • The Dietician discusses pre- and post-transplant dietary requirements tailored to individual needs.

  • The Transplant Coordinator reviews medical history, facilitates UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) listing, and coordinates additional tests or evaluations as needed.

Await the committee review meeting, during which the case will be presented and discussed for further evaluation and decision-making.

Keep Your Testing up to Date

  • Undergo yearly check-ups to maintain list eligibility and ensure continued suitability for transplantation, including monitoring renal function and overall health.

  • Submit a monthly PRA kit blood draw to the transplant center to facilitate matching with potential donors, as timely and accurate information is crucial for organ allocation and matching processes.

  • Ensure prompt submission of required documents and test results to comply with transplant center protocols and facilitate efficient evaluation and decision-making processes.

  • Arrange transportation, considering the warm/cold ischemic time for the kidney, which can be up to 24 hours, and plan to reach your transplant center within 5-7 hours on a short notice.

  • Maintain healthy weight.

Receive the Transplant!

  • Upon receiving the transplant offer, follow the transplant center's instructions for preparation and admission, and undergo the transplant surgery as scheduled.

  • Admission and surgery might take 15 hours or longer, followed by 1 week in the hospital and up to 6 weeks of out-patient recovery in the nearby hospital.

Complete Post-Transplant Follow up

  • Follow instructions from transplant health professionals regarding medication management, dietary restrictions, lifestyle modifications, and follow-up care to promote successful recovery and long-term graft survival.

  • Stay proactive in maintaining health, attend scheduled follow-up appointments, and promptly address any concerns or complications to ensure optimal post-transplant outcomes

Pre and Post-Transplant Budget:

  • Budget for copays associated with required medical tests and consultations during the initial evaluation phase. These tests often include tests such as routine blood work, Cardiac testing, cancer screenings, and colonoscopies, and papsmears.

  • Budget for travel expenses, including flights to the transplant center and one to two days of hotel accommodation.

  • Budget for routine medical tests as part of your post-transpalnt follow-up. These tests typically include routine blood work and typically decrease in frequency the further out you are from surgery.

  • Budget for post-transplant medication. This will include medications specific to your body's reaction to the surgey and will include daily immunosuppressant medicaitons for an extended period of time following the transpalnt. Copays for immunosupressant medicaitons typically range between $20-$40 with insruance, and can be over $1,000 without.

Health Insurance:

  • Explore commercial insurance options that provide flexibility in choosing transplant centers, allowing you to travel out of state if necessary. Consider potential limitations on network facilities and evaluate the trade-offs between in-network and out-of-network coverage

  • Check your Medicare eligibility under the End State Renal Disease ('ESRD') benefit. Benefits typically begin after three months of starting dialysis or at the month of transplant. Supplemental insurance, often through Medicaid, may cover the remaining 20% of transplant costs not covered by Medicare.

  • Review individual health insurance plans available in your state, considering coverage for pre-existing conditions and transplant procedures. Platforms like The Health Insurance Marketplace offer options for finding suitable individual insurance plans if you're self-employed or without insurance.

  • Consider additional financial asssiant support programs as needed such as Go Fund Me and Help Hope Live.

Transportation Options:

  • Commercial Flight: Arrange commercial flights to your transplant center, prioritizing convenience and timely travel. Contact commercial carriers in advance to coordinate travel arrangements, helping to ensure priority status for your flight.

  • Air Ambulance: For urgent medical transport, Angel Med Flight offers air ambulance services, often covered by commercial medical insurance. Coordinate with your insurance provider and the transplant center team to secure pre-approval for these services.

  • Driving: If feasible, consider driving to the transplant center for cost-effective and flexible transportation. For example, a 5-hour drive from Riverside, CA, to Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ, or from Rochester to Buffalo, can significantly reduce waiting times.

  • Temporary Relocation: Explore temporary relocation options near the transplant hospital, particularly if shorter wait times are available.

Lodging Options:

  • Typical lodging time includes up to 1 week in the hosptail post-surgery, and up to 6 weeks of lodging within a short distance from the hosptial.

  • Extended Stay Hotels: Many hospitals have partnerships with local hotels, offering discounted rates for transplant patients. Request a list of affiliated hotels from the hospital for comfortable and convenient accommodation options.

  • Short-Term Rentals: Consider short-term rental platforms like Airbnb or VRBO for flexible lodging arrangements. If going this route, ensure the renatl location meet hospital distance requirements and provides a conducive environment for post-transplant recovery. Reach out to hosts to discuss special accommodations or discounts for transplant patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Qualifications include chronic irreversible kidney disease and being on dialysis or close to needing it. Ineligibility factors may include other life-threatening diseases, a history of substance abuse, or serious psychiatric disorders.
That's okay! Each center has different acceptance criteria, and Transplant Coach allows applying to multiple centers simultaneously, increasing chances of acceptance.
Transplant Coach identifies transplant centers with shorter wait and helps patients apply to be considered for a transplant.
Yes, UNOS (the United Network for Organ Sharing) manages a national waiting list, but organ allocation is mainly handled regionally by 58 organ procurement organizations (OPOs) before broader allocation consideration.
Theoretically, up to 58, but we suggest starting with up to three, with the option to add more later. There are about 20 transplant centers with waiting times under two years across the country.
Yes, non-U.S. residents can receive organ transplants in the United States. However, there are several factors and considerations to discuss after applying including; Insurance coverage, cost, visa requirements, and post-transplant care.
Blood type can impact waiting time; our map and grid on the Transplant Coach homepage show estimated wait times based on specific blood types so you'll know the average wait time before applying. Another factor, a Panel Reactive Antibody (PRA) affects your waiting time. PRA measures donor compatibility, with high PRA patients potentially waiting longer due to a higher likelihood of incompatible matches, ranging from 0% to 99%. For example, if your PRA is 80%, you are estimated to accept 20 of 100 donor offers. Listing at a high volume transplant center is advisable.
Good quality deceased donor kidneys (KDPI<20%) are comparable to living donor kidneys, while medium and lower quality cadaveric kidneys do not last quite as long, according to OPTN data.
Before the transplant, the patient will be put under general anesthesia, and the surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen to place the donated kidney inside, connecting it to the recipient's blood vessels and bladder. The patient’s original kidneys are usually left in place unless there is a medical reason to remove them. The operation usually takes three to five hours. Kidney transplantation is a common surgical procedure, with over 20,000 performed in the United States every year, boasting a high success rate and low complication rate.
Most kidney transplant recipients stay in the hospital for two to seven days and can typically return to normal activities within four to eight weeks after surgery.
Medicaid coverage varies by state, but patients have options like relocating temporarily or enrolling in private insurance to afford the surgery. The 1972 Medicare Act covers dialysis and transplant costs, with many transplant patients signing up for Medicare coverage when eligible. Consult your transplant team and insurance provider for details on coverage and potential out-of-pocket expenses.
Costs vary based on factors like the transplant center and insurance coverage. On average, estimated billed charges for a kidney transplant, including pre- and post-transplant care, total around $414,800. Most, if not all, of these costs are typically covered by insurance. Check with your insurance provider and healthcare team for specifics.

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