5 Questions to Ask Your Transplant Center Team 

When considering kidney transplant as a treatment option for your end stage renal disease (ESRD), you may have a lot of thoughts and questions running through your mind. Writing them down can help ensure all your important questions are answered at your next transplant appointment.

To help you get started, here are five questions to ask the transplant program team, and why they are important to ask:

1.  What is the best way for me to communicate any personal changes to my team?

Keep your team in the know! Communicate with your team via phone, email or talk to them during your appointments. Ask your center what its preferred method of contact is. This is important because the more information they have about you, the better they can stay in touch with you regarding appointments, calls for possible organs, medical updates, support, etc. Alternatively, you should also let your team know about any personal or health changes so they can do their best to keep you physically and emotionally healthy enough to stay on the transplant list.

2.  How much time would I have to get to the transplant center if an organ becomes available?

If you are not near a transplant center and will need to fly to one once a kidney is available, it's vital to know how much time you have to get there. On average, you must be able to travel to the transplant center within 6 to 10 hours of receiving notice of an available kidney, but this can vary depending on your center. Speak with your team to learn how much time you will need.

Have a plan ready (best travel route, hospital bag packed, etc.), just like an expectant mother who is delivering her child in a hospital would. To play on the safe side, consider letting your transplant coordinator know your travel plans. He or she can help give you an idea of whether or not you should be ready to return home or to your transplant center quickly. 

3.  What should I expect post-transplant?

Ask your team what the road to recovery will look like—medically, financially and emotionally—after your transplant surgery. Knowing what lies ahead can help you mentally prepare for surgery and life after transplant. It's important to know there are still expectations following a transplant for medical follow-ups, immunosuppressant and other medications, etc. For help with finances, ask your transplant center team to help you figure out what your insurance will pay and how much you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket, or call DaVita Guest Services at 1-800-244-0680.

4.  Have you done any paired donation transplants at this center?

With the shortage of deceased organ donors, considering living donors for transplant is another great option.

Some transplant centers offer kidney paired donation (KPD), which occurs when there are two or more living donors who are willing to donate one of their kidneys, but their intended recipients are not genetic matches. The donors are then paired with recipients who are better matches so the transplants can still take place.

Ask your team if this option is available at the center, and if so, what to expect. You can also go to kpd.unos.org to see available KPD locations.

5.  What are two or three of the most important topics for me to discuss with my loved ones as I move through the transplant process?

Your transplant center can provide you with the top issues you should bring up to your loved ones as you go through the transplantation journey. Laying out your biggest concerns or information they may not know about can help open the lines of communication between you and your family, thus making the process easier.

These are just a few questions you can ask your transplant team, and you probably have a few of your own questions you'd like to ask, too. Remember, the only bad questions are the ones that aren't asked.

Know someone who would like to donate a kidney? Visit the National Kidney Registry to start the process.

Want to become an organ donor? Visit OrganDonor.gov to sign up.

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