Transplant options

Patients with kidney failure may be treated with either dialysis or transplantation. For most patients between 6 months and 70 years of age, kidney transplantation offers opportunities for greatly improved quality of life compared to dialysis – higher energy levels and greater freedom from restrictive schedules. With a functioning transplanted kidney, recipients must take medications every day to prevent attack from their own immune systems, but otherwise carry on normally with their lives as they were before dialysis became necessary.
Each type of kidney transplant has varying levels of expected success simply because of the source of donation. Some family members may have exceptionally good tissue matches with their recipients, thus resulting in outstanding long term success rates. Transplants from others living donors also give excellent function because the transit time from donor to recipient is so rapid that there is little injury to the kidney, and thus less rejection. With kidneys donated from deceased donors, there is longer preservation time, but still excellent hope for long-term success and significantly improved life expectancy than on dialysis alone.

Receiving a kidney transplant from a family member or loved one who is willing and healthy enough to donate is one of the quickest ways to transplant. Tufts Medical Center is skilled at providing concierge level care to those who are willing to donate. Once you and your living donor are approved by Transplant Surgery and Donation Surgery, the transplant can be scheduled.

Benefits of living kidney donation include:

  • Living donor kidneys generally last longer than kidney transplants from deceased donors
  • Over 98% of living donor kidneys are still working one year after transplant (OPTN, 2020)

Benefits of living donor kidney transplant include:

  1. One day evaluation for qualified perspective donors
  2. Easy evaluation process for out of state and international donors 
  3. Easy, online application via MedSleuth Breeze 
  4. Local coordination of evaluation testing
  5. Utilization of telehealth 
  6. Participation in Kidney Paired Donation (KPD)
  7. Dual organ transplantation for patients in need of combined heart/kidney transplant

I want to donate a kidney. Where do I start?

  1. Take an online evaluation
    Our team uses a highly specialized software called MedSleuth Breeze to make the initial application process seamless for interested potential donors.

  2. One day evaluation
    If you are eligible for donation, you will be invited for a one day evaluation. At this visit, you will meet with members of the healthcare team, an Independent Living Donor Advocate and certain medical tests are performed based upon your medical history. 

 After all meetings and tests, you will find out if you can be a donor within just a few weeks! 

What if my donor and I aren't a match?

Sometimes a person who is willing and healthy enough to donate is not a medically compatible match to their recipient. Typically this occurs when the two people are not a compatible blood type. In this case, transplant is still possible Tufts MC participates in Kidney Paired Donation (KPD). Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) is when a computer connects incompatible pairs of kidney donor and recipients to other pairs to create compatible pairs. Learn more about the process >

Support for living donors

Tufts MC has also partnered with Harvey Mysel, a two-time living donor kidney transplant recipient and founder of the Living Kidney Donors Network, to provide additional resources and support around finding a living donor.  

If you do not have a family member or friend able to donate a kidney to you, deceased donor kidney transplant remains an option for transplant.

While our transplant center staff are expert level practitioners with decades of combined experience, we know this process is new to you. The process of evaluation, listing and waiting for a deceased donor transplant can be long and emotional. We keep this in mind each step of the way and offer direct support via a member of our team 24/7. In addition, we are readily able to utilize telehealth platforms to seamlessly transition to virtual sessions when necessary and we work with your primary care team to coordinate local testing and consults.  

Special programs to decrease waiting time

Waiting time for kidney transplant on the deceased donor list can range anywhere from 4 to 10 years depending on your blood type and a number of other variables. Our team offers various programs that can decrease your wait time if you quality.

  • Hepatitis C NAT Positive Donor Protocol

    This protocol offers patients the option of receiving a kidney that is actively infected with Hepatitis C. This means that there is close to 100% certainty that the recipient will be infected with Hep C post-transplant. The recipient is given medications to remove the infection after transplant occurs and they receive intensive follow up post-transplant.
    Recipients will only be offered a kidney after signing a consent form, attending an additional information session with our transplant infectious disease team, transplant nephrologist and surgeon to learn about the benefits and risks of transplant from a donor that is actively infected with Hepatitis C.  
  • Non A1 Transplant

    Individuals with blood type B have longer waiting times on the transplant list because only 20-25% of the population will be a match. In 2014, the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) altered the nationwide Kidney Allocation System (KAS) so transplantation centers could offer kidneys from blood group A2 individuals to type B recipients because type A2 blood behaves like the universal donor type O.