The Transplant Evaluation Process

If you have decided that an organ transplant may be right for you, you may feel nervous. At Fletcher Allen, our transplant team includes coordinators and social workers who make sure you understand every step of the evaluation process. 

All potential transplant recipients must undergo a thorough transplant evaluation. This series of tests makes sure that: 

  • Transplant is the right treatment for you
  • Surgery itself is not too risky
  • You will be able to care for yourself with your new organ

Transplant Evaluation: What to Expect

You will be working closely with your transplant coordinator from the beginning to the end of this process. The evaluation takes two to three hours and requires two visits:

Your First Visit

Our transplant coordinators will give you information about what you can expect before, during, and after surgery.  They will be your contact when scheduling tests necessary for transplant work-up.

A physician will review your records, examine you, and review the risks and benefits of transplantation.

The transplant social worker will gather your social history, explore your feelings about transplantation, and review basic financial information.

Your Second Visit

  • A transplant surgeon will assess your ability to undergo an operation and determine if any further tests are required.
  • The transplant nutritionist will perform a nutritional assessment 
  • In some cases, you may also see a psychiatrist or psychologist or financial counselor

Tests Required for Transplant Evaluation

During the evaluation process, your transplant surgeon will order a number of tests to learn more about your health and how healthy you are. These tests also help them match you with the right donor. These will include: 

  • Blood Tests: We will order blood tests to determine your blood type (A, B, AB, or O), immunization status, test for viruses like Hepatitis B and C, HIV, and CMV, and to screen for antibodies.
  • Tissue Typing: We will test your blood to identify small proteins on your cells called antigens.  Potential organ donors undergo the same blood test.  This helps the transplant team to identify how closely any kidney matches you.  However, we often perform a kidney or kidney/pancreas transplant with few or no antigen matches as long as the blood types are compatible.  Advances in immunosuppression have made "matching" less important in achieving a successful outcome with a transplant.
  • Chest X-Ray: A chest X-ray will be taken to see if your lungs are healthy.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) Heart Stress Test: EKG/ECG and a heart stress test monitor the functioning of your heart and look for evidence of coronary artery disease.
  • Mammogram and/or Pap smear: Mammogram and/or pap smear are part of the basic work-up for all women.

Some patients may also require the following additional tests:

  • Colonoscopy: Patients older than 50 need to be screened for colon cancer.
  • PSA: Men older than 50 need a prostate-specific antigen blood test to screen for prostate cancer.
  • Heart catheterization: This diagnostic test is needed if your doctor thinks you may have coronary artery disease based on your medical history or stress test results.
  • Vascular studies: A Doppler study or angiogram can assess blood flow to your legs or head and neck.
  • Pulmonary Function Test (PFT):  This test measures how well you breathe and how well your lungs work.
  • Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG): VCUG is used to see how well your bladder empties.

Transplant Surgery Approval

After you have finished testing, our Transplant Selection Committee will analyze the results. Once the committee approves you for transplant surgery, the process changes depending on whether you are using a living or deceased donor. 

  • Patients using a deceased donor are placed on the waiting list for receiving a transplant. Learn more about kidney donors and waiting lists
  • Surgery will be scheduled for patients using a living donor. Read about transplant surgery and what to expect.

Some circumstances may require that a patient be re-considered by the Transplant Selection Committee at a later date.

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.