The kidney offer

When will I be offered a kidney?

The offer of a kidney may come at any time, day or night. Make sure you have your phone switched on and with you at all times. If we cannot get hold of you, we will have to offer the kidney to someone else. Think about how you will get to the hospital when you are called, remembering that it may be in the middle of the night. If you have pets or young children, think about who will be able to look after them at short notice.

What should I do when I get the offer?

The doctor will ask you to come to the hospital straight away. Please let the doctor know if you are unwell or have been into hospital recently. We will require you to be in the best possible health for your transplant operation. DO NOT delay coming to the hospital, as this will increase the time we have to store the kidney and may impact on the transplant. DO NOT have anything else to eat or drink, as you will need to have an empty stomach for the anaesthetic. DO switch off all lights and appliances, as you might be in hospital for some time. DO let a neighbour or relative know that you are going into hospital.

What will happen when I arrive at hospital?

Go straight to the ward and let the ward nurses know that you have come in for a kidney transplant. The doctor will assess you to make sure you are fit enough to have a transplant. The doctor will take blood in order to make sure you are a match with the kidney and see whether you need dialysis before the operation. You may need a further chest X-ray and ECG (tracing of your heart). An anaesthetist will come to see you to make sure you are fit for anaesthetic for the operation. A surgeon will come to see you and explain more of the risks and benefits about the operation. The surgeon will ask you to sign the consent form for the operation, if you are happy to have the kidney transplant and understand all the facts about the operation. You may be asked whether you want to enter a research trial. Enrolling for a trial is entirely optional and your transplant does not depend on you entering any trials.

Can I ask about the donor?

Yes. The staff will be able to tell you the age, sex and some relevant medical details about the donor. This will help you decide if you want to have the kidney transplant. Due to the privacy of the donor and their family, we will not be able to tell you any other details about the donor.

If I am called to the hospital, will I definitely receive the transplant?

No. We have to make sure you are fit enough to receive the transplant and nothing has changed since you were last assessed – for example that you have not had heart problems, put on too much weight or have an infection. The kidney has to be matched to your blood to make sure that you do not react to the kidney. If your blood reacts to the kidney (a positive crossmatch), there would be a high risk of you rejecting the kidney and we would offer the kidney to someone else. This test takes about four hours to complete and may be delayed while we are waiting for the kidney to arrive. If the crossmatch is positive, we will let you go home as soon as we know the result. The surgeon will need to carefully examine the kidney to ensure there is no problem to prevent the transplant going ahead.

If I am called to the hospital, do I have to receive the transplant?

No. It is your choice whether you receive the kidney but kidney offers do not come around often and it may be a long time before you are offered another kidney. The delay involved with assessing you increases the storage time for an organ and may mean that it cannot be offered to another patient. If you do not want to have a transplant, please ask your doctor to remove your name from the waiting list. If you turn down a kidney transplant, we may ask you to come to the Royal Free for a further discussion about transplantation.