How do I get on the transplant list?
If you want to get a kidney transplant, you will need to ask your doctor for a referral to be evaluated by a transplant center. The transplant center will conduct a series of medical tests to evaluate whether you are a good candidate for transplantation—whether you are healthy enough to have a transplant, are free of cancer and infection, and have a strong heart. They will also evaluate your financial situation and family support system and will ask questions to make sure you will take care of your new kidney and will be able to pay for your transplant medications and will take them as prescribed. If you have a family member or friend interested in donating a kidney to you, the center will evaluate your potential donor as well.
Follow this link to read a blog with tips to improve your chances of getting a kidney transplant.
How do I choose a transplant center?
When choosing a transplant center, you should consider a number of things, including
- Whether the center is covered by your private insurance or Medicare
- The number and type of transplants the center performs annually
- Survival rates for transplant recipients and their donors
- Additional resources provided by the center, such as coordinators to help with finance questions, support groups, etc.
- Distance from your home
You may want to be listed at more than one transplant center to increase your odds of getting a kidney transplant sooner.
How do I pay for a kidney transplant?
If you have insurance through your employer, your insurance provider may cover your transplant and transplant medications. If your insurance doesn’t cover the transplant, you can receive coverage under Medicare. In order to be covered by Medicare, your transplant must be performed in a Medicare-approved hospital. Be aware that there can be copays associated with procedures and medications covered by Medicare. Medicare currently covers transplant medications for 36 months. Legislators are working to change this, but for now, this is the Medicare policy. Keep in mind that transplant medications are very costly. After 36 months, you will need to pay for your transplant medications through your private insurance or your own means. You may be able to keep your Medicare coverage if you are disabled or qualify for Medicare due to your age.
To find out more about Medicare, you can download the Medicare Coverage of Kidney Dialysis & Kidney Transplant Services brochure.
Who can help if I have more transplantation questions?
Your nephrologist can refer you to a predialysis educator, who can provide information on transplantation, transplant centers, insurance, financial issues, the evaluation steps for you and any living donor you have, living donor vs. cadaver donor options, surgical procedures, pros and cons of transplantation and transplant medications. A dialysis center social worker or transplant center social worker can also help you with your questions.
How can I find additional financial help?
It’s always a good idea to talk to your dialysis social worker or transplant social worker regarding financial aid. There are some organizations that help with the cost of medications. The American Kidney Fund has a list of prescription drug resources and also provides patient grants.
Many people organize fundraisers to raise the money needed for transplant surgery and medications. Organizations such as Help Hope Live provide fundraising assistance to patients.