What Are My Transplant Options?

Transplant candidates may receive a kidney from either a living donor or a deceased donor. See below for more information about both types of kidney donors. 

Living Donor Kidney

A family member, friend or unrelated person agrees to donate a healthy kidney to someone with endstage renal disease. This can be a kidney donated to you by a family member, friend or stranger. Living donor kidneys almost always work right away and have better long-term outcomes. This is mostly because they are removed from a healthy person who is often in the operating room next door to yours. If you do not match with a potential living donor, we can put you into a paired exchange program. This is a scheduled surgery.

Here’s how it works:

  • Donor kidneys are matched to potential recipients who have a living donor that is not compatible with his or her recipient.
  • The exchange puts all potential living donors and potential recipients in a system. The system determines which donor matches which recipient. If you have a potential living donor, please let the GW Transplant Institute know by calling 202-715-4225.

Laparoscopic Donor Surgery

A living donor kidney is removed through small incisions rather than the long incisions of the past. This is associated with a shorter hospital stay (48 hours) and a shorter recovery time that may result in less pain for the donor. Individual results may vary. The donor should talk with his/her doctor to determine if laparoscopic surgery is right for him/her.

ABO Incompatible Transplant

This procedure is designed for donors and recipients who do not have compatible blood types. In the past, this incompatibility would result in the body’s rejection of the transplanted kidney. ABO transplants are possible between some recipients and donors, but not all. Medical treatment before and after transplantation to lower antibody levels to prevent rejection is required. This type of transplantation may help reduce waiting time for some patients.

Desensitization for Transplant

Many kidney transplant patients are considered ‘sensitized,’ which indicates high antibody levels that may cause the body to reject a new kidney. Desensitization helps to remove those harmful antibodies (which can come from previous transplants, pregnancies or blood transfusion) from the blood stream. Sensitized patients wait longer than ‘unsensitized’ patients for a compatible deceased donor transplant.

Auto Transplantation

This procedure involves removing a kidney from an individual and transplanting it in a different location within that person to improve renal function. This is useful in patients who have uteral damage, cancer or vascular lesions affecting the aorta and renal artery. This procedure is designed to save an otherwise healthy kidney.

Living Donor Paired Kidney Exchange

Here is how it works: Donor One has a healthy kidney to give. A recipient has been offered a kidney by Donor Two but it is not a match. Donor One’s kidney is a match for the recipient. Therefore, Donor One’s kidney is transplanted into the recipient. If not for Donor One, the recipient would have to wait for a deceased donor kidney. An altruistic donor may also start a kidney transplant exchange.

Deceased Donor Kidney

This is a kidney that is donated by a family whose loved one has been declared brain dead due to trauma.