Kidney Transplant Frequently Asked Questions
  • How long does it take to find out if I can be on the kidney transplant waiting list?

    It usually takes about 90 days to finish all of the paperwork and tests. The 90-day process begins when we receive your application. It is completed when you are placed on the National Waiting List.

  • If I want to be a living donor, what should I do? 

    Call the Texas Health Fort Worth transplant office at 817-250-2443 to speak with a transplant coordinator. They will ask you some questions over the phone to see if you are a potential candidate.

  • How long will I be on the waiting list? 

    Most people are on the waiting list for 3 to 5 years. The amount of time you are on the waiting list depends on many things like your blood type, how long you have been on dialysis (if at all) and general health. If you have a living donor, the surgery can be scheduled at the earliest convenience of the living donor.

  • Once I get the call to come to the hospital for kidney transplant, how long do I have to get to the hospital? 

    The transplant coordinator will let you know when to get to the hospital. Each situation is different depending on where you live.

  • How long does transplant surgery take? 

    Transplant surgery takes about 4 to 6 hours.

  • How long will I be in the hospital after transplant? 

    You will be in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for 1 to 2 days. Then you will go to the kidney transplant floor for another 4 to 6 days.

  • What can be expected after surgery?

    After surgery, the donor kidney will hopefully start working as soon as the blood flow passes through. In some instances, it can take a few days or weeks for the kidney to pick up function (called delayed graft function). You and your kidney will be closely monitored throughout your hospital stay.

  • What will my care be like after transplant? 

    You will take anti-rejection medicines as long as you have your donated kidney. You will be required to attend follow-up visits and have lab work done every so often to see how well your kidney is working. 

  • Will I be able to work and travel after my transplant? 

    Yes, most people are able to return to work and travel within a few months after their transplant. 

  • Is there a hotel where my family and I can stay? 

    Yes, our social worker will help you find a discounted hotel while you are in town.

  • If I change my phone number, should I let my transplant coordinator know? 

    Yes. It’s very important that your transplant coordinator be able to call you at all times. You must keep your transplant coordinator up to date with any phone number changes.

  • When can I drive? 

    You can drive about 45 days after your surgery, or once your wound is healed and you are no longer taking pain medicine.

  • Who do I call if I have any questions before and after transplant? 

    You should call your transplant coordinator. There is a coordinator on-call 24 hours a day.

  • What are the benefits and risks of a kidney transplant? 

    There are many benefits of transplant. While dialysis is also a treatment option, you have to be dependent upon the hemodialysis or peritoneal machines. Transplant can offer an improved quality of life and allow the patient to enjoy things that were made difficult by dialysis.

    Like with any major surgery, there are risks associated with the kidney transplant surgery. One risk includes rejection of the donor kidney. Usually, these rejection episodes can be managed with medications by your surgeon and physician. Other complications are rare but can include: bleeding, blood clots, and infection.

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Financial Questions
Dealing with insurance and costs is stressful and can be overwhelming. Our financial coordinators and social workers are always here to answer questions.
  • Is organ transplant covered by my insurance?

    Most insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid, pay for organ transplants. Often, there are limits or exclusions for certain services. Your financial coordinator will verify coverage with your insurance company and will help you with a financial plan during your pre-evaluation. It is important to understand your coverage and your potential out-of-pocket expenses, so you can develop a long-term plan to cover your transplant costs.

  • What are the costs related to transplant?

    Organ transplant is a very costly surgery. Most people cannot afford transplant surgery without some kind of health insurance. Costs can be divided into two categories.

    Medical costs include, but are not limited to:

    • Pre-evaluation and testing — covered by the kidney transplant program
    • Transplant surgery — covered by your insurance
    • Donor organ fees — covered by the kidney transplant program
    • After surgery tests — covered by your insurance
    • After surgery problems — covered by your insurance
    • Doctor fees (transplant surgeon, anesthesiologist, pathologist, radiologist, etc.) — covered by your insurance

    Deductible, co-pays, prescription and non-prescription drugs tend to account for most of your out-of-pocket costs. Other non-medical costs that are your responsibility include, but not are limited to:

    • Transportation to and from the transplant center
    • Food and lodging
    • Lost wages
    • Child care

  • What type of insurance do you accept?

    The hospital accepts most private insurances, Medicare, and Medicaid. Your financial coordinator will verify your insurance before your pre-evaluation to make sure the hospital accepts your plan.

  • Who is responsible for the costs if I have a living donor?

    All routine testing, hospitalization costs and doctor services required for the living donor evaluation are covered either by the recipient’s (person receiving the kidney) insurance or the kidney transplant program. Transplant-related complications are covered by your insurance for at least 90 days or more depending on your insurance.

    Travel expenses, child care and lost wages may be your donor's responsibility. These costs are not covered by Medicare or private insurance. However, donors may be eligible for sick leave, state disability and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) from their job.  It is important for donors and their families to consider the financial impact of donating and other possible expenses. Donors may be eligible for assistance with travel, hotel, food, etc., through the Living Donor Assistance Fund. Your financial coordinator will review the resources available through the National Living Donor Assistance Center with your donor.

  • What things I should talk about with my insurance company before I decide to have a transplant?
    1. Does my insurance provide coverage for the entire transplant process?
    2. Do I need a second opinion? If so, who will pay for it?
    3. Is there a waiting period for coverage? If so, how long is it? Am I currently in the waiting period?
    4. Do I have to get approval or authorization before the transplant?
    5. What pre and post-transplant tests do you cover? Do I need to go to a certain hospital or clinic for them?
    6. Are there any deductibles or co-pays? What are my total out-of-pocket costs per year?
    7. Does my insurance cover the costs of travel, lodging, and food while going through transplant and after transplant?
    8. What is the coverage for post-transplant medicines? What is my co-pay?
    9. Do I have a maximum amount or cap on my coverage?
    10. Do I need to let you know when I am admitted to the hospital?

  • How can a transplant social worker help?
    • A social worker can connect you with community resources and make referrals based on your need and eligibility.
    • A social worker can provide emotional support, listen to your concerns and help you use or develop your problem-solving skills.
    • A social worker can help you understand the health care system during all phases of your transplant process.

    Call your social worker when you have questions or concerns about an issue or before a crisis happens.

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