A preemptive kidney transplant is when you receive a kidney transplant before your kidney function deteriorates to the point of needing dialysis to replace the normal filtering function of the kidneys.
Currently, most kidney transplants are performed on people who are on dialysis because their kidneys are no longer able to adequately clean impurities from the blood.
Preemptive kidney transplant is considered the preferred treatment for end-stage kidney disease, but only about 20% of kidney transplants are performed preemptively in the U.S.
Several factors have been linked to the lower than expected rate of preemptive kidney transplants, such as:
The benefits of preemptive kidney transplant before dialysis for people with end-stage kidney disease include:
These benefits of preemptive kidney transplant are especially significant among children and adolescents with end-stage kidney disease.
Risks of preemptive kidney transplant include early exposure to the risks associated with surgery and potentially wasting native kidney function.
If your doctor recommends a preemptive kidney transplant, you will be referred to a transplant center for evaluation. You're also free to select a transplant center on your own or choose a center from your insurance company's list of preferred providers.
At the transplant center, your transplant team will conduct several tests to determine if a preemptive kidney transplant is appropriate for you. Your team will consider a variety of factors, including:
If you are approved for a preemptive kidney transplant and a living-donor kidney is available, the living-donor kidney transplant procedure will be scheduled. If a living-donor kidney is not available, you will be placed on a waiting list for a deceased-donor kidney transplant.