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Who is a candidate for a kidney transplant?

Dr. Audrey K. Chun, MD
Geriatric Medicine Specialist

To be considered for a kidney transplant, a patient must have severely reduced kidney function (less than 20 percent of normal) or be receiving dialysis as a treatment for kidney failure. A dialysis machine filters out wastes and excess fluids from the patient's blood. A transplant is often desired because it frees the patient from the dialysis schedule, which usually requires three to five hours three days a week at a clinic.

Any patient with end stage renal disease (ESRD) or chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4 to 5 could be eligible for a kidney transplant and should be referred for evaluation. Candidates will undergo evaluation including a thorough review of medical and surgical history, a psychosocial evaluation and screening tests to rule out heart disease, malignancies and infections. Additional tests may be ordered. Patients with severe heart, lung, liver disease or chronic untreatable infections may not be eligible for kidney transplantation.

Before you receive a transplant, it is necessary to undergo a series of medical tests to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for transplant. You must be cancer-free and have no active infections.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning if he or she is a candidate for an organ transplant, consult the transplant team at your local transplant center (hospital that performs transplants). Your nephrologist or dialysis unit can help you find a transplant center. Ask the center's transplant team about the advantages of receiving a transplant, as well as the possible risks and complications.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.