Frequently Asked Questions

Pre-Op

In Illinois the average wait time for a kidney on the national waiting list is 5 to 7 years. We will continue to manage your condition through dialysis until then. However, if you have an incompatible living donor and choose the Pay-It-Forward program, your wait time might be significantly reduced. Read more of our Frequently Asked Questions.

Insurance, whether private, Medicare or Medicaid, will pay for the recipient's evaluation and surgery. The recipient's insurance also pays for the evaluation and surgery for a living donor. Please contact your insurance for specific levels of coverage. Read more of our Frequently Asked Questions.

You have two bean-shaped kidneys. They are in the lower back on either side of the spine. They help the body remove waste material and extra fluid from the blood. This is taken outside the body in the form of urine. They also help regulate blood pressure and stimulate production of red blood cells. In addition, they regulate fluids and chemicals that the body needs.

Kidney failure, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD), is when your kidneys can no longer clean toxins and other chemicals from your blood. The kidneys also play a role in regulating our blood pressure and our ability to produce red blood cells.

Kidney transplantation is another treatment option. Transplants can provide a better quality of life. It allows you the freedom of not needing frequent dialysis treatments that require many days per week. A transplant also can increase your life expectancy when compared with dialysis.

If you are interested in a transplant, you can talk to your kidney doctor or someone at your dialysis center. You also can contact the Transplant Center (708) 327-4TXP, (708-327-4897).

There are many possible reasons to need a kidney transplant. If your kidneys are failing or you have certain diseases that affect the kidneys, you may need a transplant. The need for transplant can be determined only after an examination and testing by your kidney doctor.

A kidney transplant evaluation is extensive. It requires many tests and examinations to determine your need and it is different for each patient.

Kidney transplants are routinely done on patients of all ages. At Loyola, we perform both adult and pediatric kidney transplants.

After completing the evaluation process, the multidisciplinary team reviews the results. If you are approved for a kidney transplant, you will be registered with the United Network for Organ Sharing, more commonly called UNOS. That is the national waiting list that all patients across the country are placed on. The list is the place where donor organs are matched with recipients on the wait list.

In general, maintaining your health as much as possible is the plan. If you are slightly overweight, exercising to lose weight is helpful and will allow you to recover sooner. Your doctors may have specific medications or treatments they may want you to take, but staying in the best health is the goal.

For patients receiving a kidney, the existing kidneys (also called native kidneys) are usually left in place. They are near the back of your abdomen and are not removed unless it is absolutely necessary. If your doctors decide that removing a native kidney is necessary, they will discuss the reason with you. When you receive a kidney, it is placed in your pelvis. The blood supply is connected from your regular kidney arteries and the bladder is reattached.

Post-Op

After surgery, you will need to time to recover. That's why we set visiting hours. Visiting hours for most patients are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

It should be very different! Some patients say that they never expected to feel that good. Again, every patient is different and it all depends on what your level of activity and health was prior to transplant. For kidney patients, no longer having to undergo hemodialysis three times a week or perform daily home dialysis brings tremendous freedom.

There are specific precautions you must take to prevent rejection. You will need to take your medications exactly as prescribed and there are certain situations that you may need to avoid to limit your exposure to infection.

For as long as you have a transplanted kidney! The anti-rejection medications are extremely important and must be taken every day, preferably at the same time, to prevent rejection. It is important that you follow this strict regimen.

Living Donor

All tests to work up a potential donor are done as an outpatient.

The kidney donor evaluation is an extensive physical exam that includes laboratory tests to check not only kidney function, but also the health of all the other organs. This includes diagnostic tests to check the function of the potential donor’s heart and general overall health. A psychosocial evaluation is also done to ensure that they can manage the emotional stress of donating a kidney as well as to make certain they are donating without any pressure from others.

Kidney donors have to be a minimum age of 18 and of sound mind and judgment to make such an important decision.

Once you fully recover from any post-surgery discomfort, there are no restrictions on lifestyle or work.

If a recipient has more than one willing donor and assuming they are all appropriate to donate, siblings are chosen first since they usually have the best match from an immune system perspective. After siblings, a parent is next, depending on age and health. Then any other blood relative is considered. After blood relatives, donors can usually be anyone who has a close personal relationship with the recipient such as a spouse or a best friend. There are also altruistic donors, such as through our Pay-It-Forward program, who give a kidney to someone they don’t know.

Research has shown that people who were healthy and donated a kidney are at no greater risk for developing kidney failure than the same population in the general public.

It is almost always done laparoscopically. Four very small incisions are made so that pain and scarring is minimized. Recovery from surgery is also much faster this way. There is a very small chance that for medical reasons a more traditional surgical incision may need to be done.

It is different for every person. You will have three small incisions on your abdomen and you will have some mild to moderate pain. The nurses caring for you will encourage you to tell them about any pain you are having so they can make sure you get the medicine you need to ease the discomfort. The doctors will monitor you closely for the first 24 hours after surgery and you will begin to feel better within that first day. You will be encouraged to get up and walk around and you will be encouraged to do some deep breathing and coughing to prevent complications from the anesthesia.

Most people go home the day after surgery. If you experience more pain than normal, you may be required to stay an extra day until your pain is under control. Our medical staff will send you home with pain medicine. Going back to work depends on the type of work that you do. Most people regardless of occupation can resume most normal activities within a few days. The time needed for a complete recovery in order to resume all prior activity is approximately 4 to 6 weeks.

This differs from person to person. Some people will feel very happy they were able to help someone who was in need of a life-saving organ. Other people might feel slightly depressed even though they helped someone in an incredible way. Still others will feel completely the same afterwards. The important point is that all of these emotions are completely normal feelings after donation. Everyone is unique in how they respond. But almost everyone does report an overall positive response and experience.


 

In the past, there were occasions when some had to pay more for life insurance after donating a kidney but not necessarily regular health insurance. There also has been evidence that some health insurance companies attempted to charge patients higher premiums after donating a kidney. But due to impending health-care reform and its implementation, pre-existing conditions will no longer be an issue.

Ready to Get Started?

For an appointment or more information, call (708) 327-4TXP, (708-327-4897), to speak with a Transplant representative.

© 2011 Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division. All rights reserved.  &npsp; Privacy Policy   Privacy Policy