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For patients experiencing kidney failure, dialysis and kidney transplant are the only possible solutions.
There are two types of dialysis–hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Dialysis is lifesaving but is not always the best solution for all patients. It can be time-consuming and does not always improve your quality of life the way transplantation can.
A kidney transplant can restore kidney function to normal or near normal levels but does mean you have to be able to tolerate surgery and healing time. You will also be on immunosuppression medication for the life of your transplanted kidney.
Unless you have someone willing to donate a kidney, you will likely spend time on a waitlist. Transplantation is a great option but may not be suitable for everyone.
Kidney transplant criteria
Anyone who meets the following criteria may be eligible for a kidney transplant.
• Kidney failure
• On dialysis or close to being on dialysis
• Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) less than 20 cc/min
• Strong enough for operation and recovery and willing to accept the risks associated with a transplant
Donated kidney survival
The expected survival of the kidney is based on several factors including the age, laboratory values, and medical condition of the deceased donor. This is known as the kidney donor profile index (KDPI). The KDPI is scored on a range of zero to 100. Kidneys given a score of zero are expected to have the longest survival.
Kidney paired donation
If you have a willing living donor but they are not a match for you (incompatible pair), you and your donor have the option to participate in a kidney paired donation (KPD) or “swap” program. In these programs a donor that does not match can exchange kidneys with a similar donor/recipient incompatible pair or be part of a longer swap chain.
University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics participates in the National Kidney Registry (NKR) KPD program. The NKR program is well-known for superior “match making.” Once in the NKR program, you will also remain active on the deceased donor list in case a matched kidney from a deceased donor is available first.
Both the recipient and donor will have their surgeries at UI Hospitals & Clinics. Your donor’s kidney will be shipped to the intended recipient and your new kidney will be similarly removed and shipped here for implantation later the same day.
This is a great way to get a live donor kidney even though your intended donor was not compatible with you.