Sources for Healthy Kidneys, Donors & Waiting List

Kidney Donors and Waiting Lists

Kidneys can come from two sources:

  • Living Donor: Living donors include relatives and unrelated donors (spouse or friend). Living donors are the best possible source of a kidney. Statistics show that 90-95 percent of kidneys received from living donors are still working one year after transplant and are expected to continue working for many years.
  • Deceased Donor: A deceased donor is someone who has died whose family agrees to donate his/her organs. If you are waiting for a deceased donor, your name goes on a waitlist with a national organization called the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) after your transplant evaluation.

Living Donors: What to Expect

Potential donors must undergo a number of tests to make sure they are compatible with the patient and healthy enough to donate a kidney. These tests include:

  • Blood testing
  • Thorough medical evaluation
  • Cardiac testing
  • Chest X-ray
  • Analysis of urine and
  • Procedure to visualize the kidneys (MRI or CT scan)


At Fletcher Allen, all potential donors meet with our transplant social worker to review the pros and cons of donation. Our Living Donor Advocates also meet with all donors before and after surgery to make sure their needs are being met. Some donors may require further evaluation from the hospital psychiatrist or psychologist. After the surgery, donors may be in the hospital for three to five days. Most return to work in four to six weeks.

Expanded Criteria Kidney Donor at Fletcher Allen

Some donor organs have a higher risk of poor function. Because there is a serious shortage of deceased donor kidneys and the number of people waiting for a kidney increases every year, an organ from an “expanded criteria” donor may be offered to you. A study by the national kidney program showed that patients who receive these kidneys add about 5 years to their life compared to patients who do not receive a transplant and remain on dialysis.

Expanded criteria donors are donors who are older or who have specific health problems that might affect how well or how long their kidneys will work after transplant surgery. These donors are 50-59 years old, or older, and meet the following criteria:

  • Medical history of high blood pressure
  • Most recent creatinine was 1.5 mg/dL or higher
  • Cause of death was stroke

Agreeing to accept an “expanded criteria” kidney if one becomes available does not affect your status on the regular waiting list. You may accept or refuse the offer of an “expanded criteria” kidney at any time while you are waiting for an organ to become available.

Kidney Donor Waiting List: What You Need to Know

  • Patients who are listed must be reachable 24 hours a day/7days a week. You must be prepared to come to the hospital day or night.
  • Waiting time begins he day you are listed for transplant. This time continues to accrue without interruption even if you are listed as "temporarily unavailable" due to an acute illness or if you are away from the area for vacation or for other personal reasons.
  • You may choose to be listed at another transplant center as well as at Fletcher Allen. Please speak with a member of the transplant team and we will assist you in any we can.
  • If you choose to have your name removed from the list at Fletcher Allen, your accrued waiting time may be transferred to another program. It is the responsibility of the new transplant program to assist you with the request to transfer your waiting time.
  • While you are on the waiting list, an annual visit will be scheduled with the Nurse Practitioner and Transplant Social Worker to make sure you are in good health and to keep all pre-transplant testing up to date.
  • The length of time that someone is on the waitlist is unpredictable and is dependent on many factors.
  • Monthly blood samples are required for cross match determination. The samples can be drawn at Fletcher Allen or your local blood lab. When a donor becomes available, your blood samples are tested to determine their compatibility with the donor. This process usually happens before the calling the patient. Sometimes, due to time restrictions, it is done when the patient is on the way to the hospital or already there.

Referrals to Fletcher Allen Transplant Surgery

Primary care physicians and specialist physicians refer patients to Fletcher Allen Transplant Surgery. Our team responds to each referral. The referral process can be started with a phone call to our office: 802-847-4774.