Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How difficult is it to get a kidney transplant?"
My son may need a kidney transplant. Who gets one? What does it depend on? Blood type?
Organ transplants are regulated by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). There are generally two steps for getting a kidney transplant: 1) Getting listed for a kidney transplant 2) Finding a donor kidney As far as getting listed, the patient's underlying medical condition comes into play. First of all, a patient's kidney disease must be severe enough to warrant going through the risks of a transplant. Beyond that, the patient's other mecical problems come into play: older patients with multiple other medical problems are less likely to be listed. Younger patients with fewer medical problems are better candidates. The use of drugs can often disqualify a patient. There is a thorough evaluation done by kidney transplant centers to ensure that a patient is well enough to survive the surgery and the immunosuppression required to keep the donor kidney working once it has been transplanted. This includes numerous blood tests, some imaging studies, and social work and occasionally psychological evaluations. Once listed for a transplant, your son's spot on the list depends on how long he has been listed, how severe his kidney disease is (how soon he will require dialysis), and whether a donor kidney matches not only his blood type, but his MHC molecules (a set of six unique, personalized markers on a patient's cells that have to match the donor patient's cells in order for the kidney not to be rejected). You should take your son to see a pediatric nephrologist to determine if/when he needs a transplant. If so, they will begin the evaluation required to get him listed for transplant.
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