Patients with end-stage kidney disease have three options for treatment: dialysis, a kidney transplant from a deceased donor, or a kidney transplant from a living donor.
Dialysis is only a temporary solution. Treatment schedules are time-consuming—as frequent as three times a week for four hours each session. While a patient can remain on dialysis for many years, it is not a cure for kidney disease. In fact, ten percent of patients on dialysis die each year while awaiting a kidney transplant. For some groups, such as elderly patients and patients with diabetes, there is an even greater risk.
Kidney transplantation may be a treatment option for patients whose kidneys have permanently failed due to chronic end-stage renal disease.
Your overall health, not your age, is the most important factor in determining if you are a suitable organ recipient. Screenings before transplant ensure that you are in good medical and psychological health and that you have the motivation and support to comply with treatment plans. People who generally are not candidates include those with metastatic cancer, active drug or alcohol abuse, active infection or severe medical problems.
For Veterans who receive their care in the VA System – there are currently eight Kidney Transplant Programs located across the nation:
- Six of these programs have living kidney donor programs. You must be referred by your “home VA” to a transplant program within the VA.
- Some veterans are eligible to have the VA pay for non VA Transplant care through community care. You must speak with your local VA Transplant Coordinator to learn more. Currently the VA System does not actively participate with national paired exchange programs—though DOVE is actively advocating with VA leadership for this to change.
- Veterans can also non VA Transplant programs through alternate insurance plans such as Medicare/Tricare or private insurers.
- Veterans and active-duty military personnel and their spouses can utilize Tricare benefits to enroll for transplant at the Walter Reed National Military Center’s Transplant Program. Walter Reed participates in several paired exchange programs.
DOVE will work with Veterans who can prove they:
- Are actively listed on UNOS wait list (status 1) and
- Provide their DD214 (confirming their service history in the military).