Transplant Candidates

Who Is a Kidney Transplant Candidate?

You may be a candidate for a kidney transplant if your physician1 has diagnosed you with kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease. This means your kidneys can no longer filter your blood properly. You may already be on dialysis.

If you are a good candidate for kidney transplantation, you will be registered with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to find a donor kidney.

As a kidney candidate, you will get an individual estimated post-transplant survival (EPTS) score. This is a percentage score that ranges from 0 to 100 percent. The score is associated with how long you will likely need a transplanted kidney compared with other candidates. If you have an EPTS score of 20 percent, you are likely to need a kidney longer than 80 percent of other candidates. Someone with an EPTS score of 60 percent will likely need a kidney longer than 40 percent of other people. Your transplant team can calculate your EPTS score for you.

Your EPTS is calculated based on factors that affect how long you are likely to need a kidney, including:

  • Your age
  • Length of time spent on dialysis
  • Whether you have received a previous transplant (of any organ)
  • If you currently have diabetes

The donated kidneys also receive a score, called the kidney donor profile index (KDPI), based on the age and health of the donor. The 20 percent of kidneys that are expected to last the longest—those with a KDPI score of 20 percent or less—will first be offered to patients likely to need a transplant the longest—those with an EPTS of 20 percent or less.

Your transplant team1 can discuss with you the best options for matching based on your EPTS score and the types of kidneys that would best meet your need.

The new kidney allocation system

In early December of 2014, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the organization that manages the kidney transplant waiting list, began a new system of allocating (or giving) kidneys to candidates on the kidney transplant waiting list. The previous system had been in place for nearly 30 years and, while successful, there were ways it could be improved.

If you are already on the waiting list, you will continue to be on the list.

The goals of the new system include:

  • Increasing the length of time a kidney will work in a recipient
  • Shortening the waiting time for candidates who have had difficulty finding a kidney match due to uncommon blood types or have an immune system that makes it hard to match most kidneys
  • Giving waiting time credit to those candidates who started dialysis before getting on the kidney transplant waiting list
  • Providing more transplant opportunities, so that everyone has a better chance of being transplanted

The UNOS Questions and Answers for Transplant Candidates about Kidney Allocation brochure goes into greater detail about the kidney allocation system. Please read this brochure in English or Spanish to better understand how the new system works and how it may affect you.

If you have questions regarding the allocation system, please contact the UNOS Patient Services at 888.894.6361. UNOS Patient Services can provide information about UNOS, allocation policy and other resources available to you. As always, please feel free to contact your transplant nurse coordinator about your care.


Related Resources

Downloads

Websites

  • American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP)2: AAKP exists to serve the needs and interests of all kidney patients and their families by helping them deal with the emotional and social impact of kidney disease.
  • American Kidney Fund2: The fund provides direct financial assistance to kidney patients in need and education for those with and at risk for kidney disease.
  • Atlas of Diseases of the Kidney2: The online edition from ISN Informatics Commission and NKF Cyber-Nephrology provides information on kidney disease, treatment and research, including books and PowerPoint presentations.
  • Coalition on Donation2: The organization promotes organ donation and provides education about it.
  • Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network2: Website of the not-for-profit organ procurement organization that works with hospitals and donor families in the northern three-fourths of Illinois and northwest Indiana. The organization is responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue for medical transplantation in the service area, as well as for professional and public education on organ and tissue donation.
  • Home Dialysis Central2: This website is dedicated to educating kidney patients about home dialysis.
  • Kidney School2: This interactive, web-based learning program is designed to help people learn about kidney disease and its treatments, so they can take a more active role in their care.
  • Life Options2: This program of research, research-based education and outreach helps people live long and well with kidney disease.
  • MedlinePlus2: This is a trusted source that covers all aspects of organ donation and provides easy access to medical journal articles, extensive information about drugs, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive patient tutorials and the latest health news.
  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases2: Part of the National Institutes of Health, this organization is involved in kidney disease research and treatment options.
  • National Kidney Foundation (NKF)2: This is the main foundation with 50 affiliates dedicated to providing prevention programs, educational services and materials for kidney patients, transplant recipients, communities and funding for research. NKF Affiliates: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio
  • National Organ and Tissue Donation Initiative2: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is undertaking this initiative to ease the critical shortage of organ and tissue donors by building a national community of organ sharing.
  • Nephron Information Center2: This site covers all aspects of kidney disease with many links to other sites.
  • Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN)2: OPTN is a unique public-private partnership that links all of the professionals involved in the donation and transplantation system. Its goals are to increase the supply of donated organs available for transplantation and the effectiveness and efficiency of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation (PKD)2: PKD Foundation’s mission is to promote research to find a cure for PKD and improve the care and treatment of those it affects.
  • The Renal Network 9/102: This network facilitates the achievement of optimal wellness for renal disease patients.
  • Renal WEB2: Vortex website of the dialysis world offers patient education and the latest information and news for kidney disease professionals regarding treatment of kidney disease.
  • Transplant Living2: This is the United Network for Organ Sharing patient education site for all transplant patients.
  • TransWeb2: TransWeb's mission is to provide information about donation and transplantation to the general public to promote organ donation and to provide transplant families with information dealing specifically with transplant issues.
  • United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)2: Through the UNOS Organ Center, organ donors are matched to waiting recipients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Through its policies, UNOS ensures that all patients have a fair chance at receiving the organ they need—regardless of age, sex, race, lifestyle, religion, or financial or social status. UNOS members include every transplant program, organ procurement organization and tissue typing laboratory in the United States.
  • U.S. Transplant—Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR)2: The SRTR supports the ongoing evaluation of the scientific and clinical status of solid organ transplantation in the United States.
  • Worldwide Kidney Disease Community2: This online resource brings together people with kidney disease, in a worldwide community dedicated to improving patient quality of life.

Support groups

The following associations have support groups available to help patients and their families through a transplantation:

Legal Information
1

In the spirit of keeping you well-informed, some of the physician(s) and/or individual(s) identified are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. They have selected our facilities as places where they want to treat and care for their private patients.

2

By clicking on these websites, you are leaving the Northwestern Medicine website. These websites are independent resources. Northwestern Medicine does not operate or control the content of these websites. By visiting these websites, you agree to this third party’s terms of use for their website.