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Frequently Asked Questions

I'd like to donate one of my kidneys to my brother but our blood types are not the same. Does it matter?

No. Blood types do not have to be the same, just compatible. Markers or "antigens" on the surfaces of red blood cells decide blood type. If the donor and patient do not have compatible blood types, the kidney can be rejected right away.

  • A donor with O blood type (and sometimes A2 blood type) can donate a kidney to a patient with O, A, B or AB blood type.
  • Patients with A or B blood types are often limited to kidney transplants from donors with the same blood type or O blood type.

Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system that react to donor tissue. To prove that a donor's kidney is okay to use, blood samples from the donor and patient are mixed. If there is no reaction (negative cross-match), the donor's kidney is safe to use.

How long will I have to wait for a kidney transplant if I do not have a living donor?

When an organ becomes available, a patient is chosen using a nationwide point system. This system is based on blood type, waiting time, tissue match and antibody levels. Children are given extra points. While some people get a kidney within a few months, the average patient waits about 4 years. In contrast, a living donor kidney transplant can be scheduled as soon as the donor and patient are ready. This makes a living donor transplant an excellent choice.

My father had autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. What is the chance that I will have the same disease?

The chance that you inherited this disease is about 50%. This disease results in a buildup of benign cysts that wipe out the normal tissue in both kidneys. Signs like abdominal swelling, pain, bloody urine and frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) may show up at any time, but they often start in middle age. High blood pressure and renal failure may result as the disease progresses. There is no way to preserve kidney function in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. But dialysis or a kidney transplant can be used to treat the kidney failure.

Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease should not be confused with multiple simple cysts of the kidneys. These simple cysts are often the result of age and don't cause kidney failure.