Optimal Time to Seek Care for Kidney Transplant

May 20 9:11am | Olivia White | @oliviawhite | Comments (1)

When your primary care doctor tells you that your kidneys aren't functioning well and you are in kidney failure, what do you do? Do you wait? Do you need to connect with a transplant center immediately?

Our transplant team strongly advises seeking specialty care earlier than later. The best time to treat for kidney failure is preemptive, before the patient goes on dialysis. This ultimately saves money that would have been spent on dialysis before transplant, helps patients live longer and offers better quality of life with no dialysis. Currently, of the 20,000 to 23,000 kidney transplants performed annually, fewer than 20% are performed preemptively.

Dialysis is not perfect, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and vascular disease. We also know that the longer patients are on dialysis prior to kidney transplant, the shorter their survival time. When a patient seeks evaluation for transplant earlier they can also discuss directly with the transplant care team if there are any barriers they need to address to be a candidate for transplant. Sometimes patients need to quit smoking, lose weight, identify a caregiver or take care of other illnesses before they would be eligible for listing. When you come to a transplant center sooner those barriers can be identified, and there is still time to find solutions.

Carrie Schinstock, MD, transplant nephrologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, discusses the importance of seeking care earlier when it comes to being evaluated for kidney transplant. Learn more in the attached video.


Do you have kidney failure? Did you contact a transplant center right away? Tell us about your experience.


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I am stage 4 Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). I’ve been watching this since at least 2005 when I had a pancreas transplant for very brittle uncontrollable type 1 diabetes. At that time the CKD was only mild and a kidney transplant was not recommended. The pancreas transplant had a really good run for at least 11 years. Some of the complications of diabetes reversed & for the first time my blood sugar was controlled with the help of monitoring, insulin, diet and exercise. The CKD remained stable. My quality of life improved greatly and I referred to that transplant as my God given personal miracle. In the past 5 – 6 years I’m entering a new chapter of my life. Both my pancreas and kidney function have declined. I am using a continual glucose monitor (CGM) and doing multiple daily insulin injections (MDI). I am researching insulin pumps. I have been approved and accepted for kidney transplant at 2 transplant centers. I have chosen Mayo in Rochester and have been looking for a living kidney donor. I am Inactively listed on United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) because my Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) is about 24. Active listing requires 20 or less. I am technically too healthy for Active listing! But God willing I hope to find a living kidney donor for having a preemptive kidney transplant before dialysis becomes necessary. It is in God’s hands.

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