Undergoing an evaluation

So you've weighed the pros and cons, figured out how to pay for a kidney transplant, and decided to go ahead with the procedure; that's great news! Before you go under the knife, you need to complete a number of steps in the evaluation process:

1 You see a cardiologist to make sure that your heart is healthy enough to handle major surgery.

1 You meet the surgeon, who informs you of the risks and complications.

1 You see a psychologist or social worker to evaluate your emotional state.

1 You check with your insurance company to confirm your coverage.

After you accomplish these tasks, you do the actual work of finding a proper donor with the following steps:

1 Your blood type is checked to match you with a donor. A donor with type O blood can donate to anyone. A recipient with type O blood can only receive a kidney from another type O. (See the next section for more about donors.)

1 Your blood is checked for human leukocyte antigens (HLA), substances on white blood cells that show how close the match is between donor and recipient.

1 Your blood is checked for human leukocyte antibodies to the donor HLA. If these are present, you're said to have a positive crossmatch and the transplant isn't done due to a much higher risk of rejection of the kidney. If they're not present, you're ready to go.

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