The first step towards receiving a kidney transplant is discussing transplantation with your personal physician or nephrologist (a kidney specialist). You can ask your physician or dialysis center to arrange an evaluation appointment with the Organ Transplant Program at Swedish. You can also make an appointment directly by calling or writing:
Swedish Medical Center
Organ Transplant Program
1124 Columbia St, Ste. 600
Seattle WA 98104
Phone: 206-386-3660 or 1-800-996-7426
Once we schedule your evaluation appointment, we will ask to have your medical records sent to us to be reviewed by our transplant surgeon and nephrologist. We will conduct a brief telephone interview to obtain your health-insurance information, emergency contacts and other important general information. We also will mail you a health questionnaire to complete prior to your appointment. You will be sent driving directions to our clinic and information about parking.
The Day of your Evaluation Appointment
Please ask a family member or close friend to accompany you to your appointment if possible. Your companion is welcome to remain with you throughout the appointment. You’ll be receiving a lot of new information, and he or she can help you ask questions and keep track of important details. Your family or friends will help take care of you after the transplant, so it is important to include them in the information-gathering process.
Your first visit will last approximately three hours. You will meet individually with a transplant surgeon, nephrologist, social worker and transplant nurse coordinator. Our goal is to help you understand what it means to get a kidney transplant. You will get to know us and learn about our approach to transplantation.
The transplant team will review your medical history and current health status to determine if transplantation is a safe and suitable treatment for you. During your initial appointment, we will discuss the following with you:
- Risks and benefits specific to your diagnosis
- Medical tests required for pre-transplant evaluation
- Donor options: living donor vs. deceased donor
- Transplant surgery
- Transplant medications
- Post-transplant recovery and follow-up
- Potential complications of the surgery or the transplant medications
- Concerns regarding the transplant's impact on your social or financial situation
- Other concerns or topics you wish to discuss
This is your time. We recognize that organ transplantation is a complex procedure. We encourage you and your family to ask questions. By the end of this meeting, we hope you will understand the transplant process and the further steps necessary for your evaluation. If you have any questions after you leave, you are encouraged to contact us again.
The potential transplant recipient undergoes an extensive pre-transplant medical evaluation. Some testing may be completed via your nephrologist prior to your first evaluation appointment, and the remainder of the tests can be done later. Testing includes, but is not limited to:
- A complete medical history and physical examination by a nephrologist
- Chest X-ray
- Heart test: Electrocardiogram or other more extensive testing of the heart
- Blood tests assessing your immune system, liver function and the presence of infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis
- A complete gynecological examination for all female recipients and a mammogram for women 32 years and older
- Evaluation of the gastrointestinal system
- Blood typing, determining if you are O, A, B or AB blood type
- Tissue typing. This is another blood test that reveals the six genetic tissue codes that you were born with. (You inherit three codes from each parent.) This information is used in “matching” you to a possible cadaveric donor organ
For some, the evaluation can proceed very rapidly. For others, the process may take many weeks. For some patients, we will require more extensive testing due to your complicated medical history or other risk factors. You will be introduced to a transplant nurse coordinator who will communicate with you about the process of evaluation and who will arrange and/or monitor the tests and results. The coordinator is also an education resource for you and your family regarding the assessment and transplant process. To ensure that your workup will proceed as quickly as possible, we encourage your active participation in this process.
Approval for Transplant
Once your pre-transplant evaluation has been completed, the Organ Transplant team meets to discuss your transplant candidacy. The team includes Organ Transplant medical staff (surgeons, nephrologist, transplant coordinators and social worker), as well as nephrologists in the community affiliated with our program. If the team feels that it is medically safe for you to receive a transplant, you are ready to go on the deceased donor waiting list, or your living kidney donor’s medical evaluation can begin. You are encouraged to identify one person who will be available for a few weeks to support you and learn with you when you undergo the transplant procedure, whether you go on the waiting list or have a living donor.