SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Division of Transplantation
Information For Candidates
Questions and Answers
Q - How do I know if I am medically able to receive a transplant?
A - If you would like to pursue the option of kidney transplantation, call the Downstate transplant office at (718) 270-3169 and will be happy to give you an appointment to come in to meet the transplant team of surgeons, nephrologists and coordinators. We will discuss your medical condition with you and help you decide on transplantation as an option.
Q - How does the process work?
A - The process begins when you call the transplant office and schedule an appointment for a pre-transplant interview. On the day of your scheduled visit, you will meet the transplant team who will discuss transplantation as a treatment option with you.
Before you come in for your appointment, we will ask your dialysis unit to send us copies of your medical information for review during your visit. The Transplant Division will work closely with your dialysis unit and nephrologist (kidney doctor) throughout the process of your evaluation and eventual transplant.
We encourage you to bring family members to this appointment, especially if you have a family member who is interested in donating a kidney to you (Please, no small children).
Q - What happens on the day of the appointment?
A - At 8:00 am, on the day of your appointment, you will be asked to report to Clinic C located on the first floor of the hospital building. We encourage you to have a full breakfast and take your medications as you normally would prior to coming in as you will be at the hospital until approximately 12 noon.
After you have registered at the reception desk, the laboratory personnel will draw your blood for "tissue typing". Tissue typing is used to identify your transplant related genetic markers. These genetic markers are used to identify your genetic match with potential donors.
Your blood will be drawn twice during your visit. The first test is to identify your blood type. The second test is to confirm your blood type (it must be checked twice), identify your tissue type, and test for several viruses such as Hepatitis.
After your blood has been drawn, the clinic nurses will check your vital signs and escort you to a classroom. The Transplant Coordinator will show you and a small group of others a slide presentation about the kidney transplantation process and answer any questions you may have.
After the class, you will meet individually with the Transplant Surgeons, Transplant Nephrologists, Social Workers, Financial Counselor and Dietician. The doctors may ask you to have some additional tests done to be certain that you are able to receive the transplant.
The final determination about whether you are medically able to receive a transplant is made by the Transplant Selection Committee.
Q - What should I bring when I come in?
A - Please bring a list of your medications and your insurance card(s). They will be photocopied and immediately returned to you.
If you have insurance that is affiliated with any Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) such as HIP or Oxford, you must bring in a referral from your primary care physician. This includes Medicare or Medicaid that is affiliated with an HMO.
If you were not born in the United States, you must also bring in proof of residency such as a birth certificate, passport or "green card". The document will be photocopied and immediately returned to you.
Q - How wil l pay for a kidney transplant?
A - Nearly all people who have kidney failure may receive a transplant which will be paid for through Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. While Medicare will pay the cost of the transplant and hospital stay, the cost of the medications needed after transplant is a very important consideration in transplantation. Medicare will pay 80 percent of the cost of anti-rejection medications, but only for the first three years. After that, the percentage covered drops dramatically and must be picked up by other insurance or privately paid. The medications are extremely expensive and most people cannot afford to pay for them "out of pocket". Our Fincancial Counselor will gladly help you evaluate your insurance coverage.
Q - When will I know if I can have a kidney transplant?
A - On the day of your appointment the transplant physicians and surgeons will let you know if you need any additional tests. The coordinator will discuss these tests with you and work with you to complete them. Additional testing can be done by your dialysis unit, a physician of your choicie, or a Downstate Medical Center specialist. We will be happy to help you make arrangements for any additional testing.
After the Transplant Selection Committee reviews all your test results, including any additional testing required, a letter will be sent to you and your dialysis unit as to your suitability for transplantation.
Q - How long will I have to wait before I receive a kidney transplant?
A - Once your name has been placed on the deceased donor waiting list, we must wait for a suitable kidney to become available for you. For this reason, the length of time you must wait can vary. The average waiting time for a kidney transplant in New York City varies between five and seven years. During this time it is important that we maintain close contact with you,while we are making every effort to minimize the amount of time you have to wait. While you are waiting, we will invite you to come yearly to see the team and ensure you are ready for transplant whenever a kidney becomes available for you. We look forward to working with you throughout the pre and post transplant process.