Increase your opportunities to receive kidney transplant by registering at multiple centers with the shorter wait.

Transportation options:

  • Air Ambulance. Angel Med Flight is in the business of getting you to the transplant center of your choice on a moment's notice at zero to minimal out of pocket cost. Their team will work with your medical insurance to pre-approve you for an air medical flight. Angel Med Flight accepts commercial medical insurance only; if you only have Medicare/Medicaid, Life Flight should be able to provide Air Ambulances services.
  • Commercial flight (up to $1,000). Click on an airplane icon on Reduce Wait page to check out flights schedule and flights availability from you to the transplant center of your choice.
  • Driving ($100-200). 5-hour drive from Riverside, CA to Mayo Cinic in Phoenix, AZ or from Rochester to Buffalo might cut your waiting time from 10 years to 2.
  • Temporary relocating to the local area close to the transplant hospital is another option. The Iowa Methodist Transplant Center has under a year wait for all blood types (might be longer for sensitized patients) and moving to Iowa for few months might be a possibility.
  • Cost of multi-listing

  • Initial Evaluation: copay for the doctor's visits for required medical tests ($200) and flight to the center with 1-2 days hotel stay ($200).
  • Travel for transplant and post-transplant lodging: Transplant Centers require visits to the post-transplant clinic at least once a week for the first few weeks after kidney transplant to monitor the patient and administer necessary infusions, etc. Meals, transportaion and lodging are covered (fully or partially, depending on your insurance benefits) by health insurance and could run about $3,000-5,000.

    Some insurances, for example, AETNA, reimburse up to $10,000 of the travel and lodging expenses. Anthem policy allows reimbursement of up to $50 a night for patient and $50 for caregiver for a total of up to $100 per night.

  • Process of getting on transplant list:

    • You are eligible to get on the transplant list at eGFR of 20% (creatinine of 2.8) that has been confirmed by the blood test. At creatinine of around 2-2.5, you could start checking your kidney function regularly by ordering the Creatinine blood test through any of the direct access laboratory testing companies, such as Health Labs, Direct Labs or My Med Lab to catch your eligibility for a transplant list earlier.

    • Get ready for your evaluation at the transplant centers. Collect required medical test results and organize them as a part of pre-transplant work-up. Cancer screening tests are valid for a year and its helpful to get them done before undergoing pre-transplant evaluation at transplant center.

    • Find several kidney transplant centers with the shorter wait for your blood type and PRA. Make sure your insurance covers them. Time is of the essence: your waiting time gets accumulated per center so its important to apply to centers without a delay, especially if you are not on dialysis. If you are on dialysis, your waiting time begins to accumulate from either dialysis start date or the date your center put you on the list, whichever date occurred earlier. Given that kidney can have warm/cold ischemic time up to 24 hours, the time frame to get to the Transplant Center can be as long as 5-10 hours. Arrange your transportation.

    • When your creatinine hits 2.8 (or eligible level determined by your transplant center), Submit your application to the centers of your choice with just a button click. By law, a transplant center is required to respond to an application in 3-4 days. A transplant coordinator will be in touch to schedule the pre-transplant evaluation visit date for you.

    • During evaluation at the Transplant Center, you will meet your Transplant Team, including:

    • Financial Coordinator - verifies your medical insurance and will request pre-authorization for the transplant services

    • Social worker - makes sure you are mentally and emotionally strong and ready for transplant

    • Nephrologist - confirms the demise of your kidneys

    • Dietician - goes over renal diet, prior and post transplant

    • Transplant Coordinator - reviews your medical history and requests additional tests if needed. Responsible for adding a patient to UNOS list.

    • Wait for the Transplant Team to get together for the committee review meeting where your case will be presented. Some Transplant Centers have their committee meeting every 6 weeks, significantly increasing the evaluation time for the patient.

    • Yearly check-up: Every year you are on the list, you would need to repeat your medical tests. That will ensure you are able to survive the surgery and thus can be allowed to stay on the list. So bring your most cheerful attitude.

    • Monthly PRA kit blood draw: Every month, you need to mail your transplant centers a tube of blood drawn at your local laboratory. Its necessary for your transplant center to have a fresh PRA kit from you every month, so they can run a crossmatch between your blood and potential donor. If they do not have monthly PRA kit, you are not being matched and there is no chances for a kidney offer.

    • Your compliance with transplant center health professionals during your kidney transplant evaluation is paramount. Your ability to follow transplant health professionals directions, be receptive to their instructions and prompt submission of needed documents and test results are viewed as an indication of your ability to adhere to immunosuppresent protocol after transplant. You could be found incompliant at anytime until proven otherwise by a special committee. Another words, if your transplant coordinator asks you to do 10 push ups, I suggest you do 20.

    Multi-listing Strategy

    Choose high volume transplant center if:
  • Your PRA (antibodies level) is high (all blood types) Or

  • You are blood type B

  • Post transplant cost

    With the help of medical insurance, the immunosuppresent drugs cost just a copay, which could be 20-40$. The cost of the immunosuppresent drugs without medical insurance could be upwards of $2,500.00 per month.

    Employment and waiting list:

    The researchers found that unemployed folks are less likely to be put on the kidney transplant waiting list and get kidney transplants than employed patients.

    Health Insurance and multi-listing

  • Commercial insurance: You are not bound by the state borders and can travel for a transplant out of state. You could be limited to certain facilities that your insurance carrier considers to be High Distinction or Medical Excellence facilities. For example, Blue Cross/Anthem designates these transplant centers to be in-network. While Blue Cross/Anthem considers them "excellent", nearly all these in-network facilities (except Ohio transplant centers) have long wait times, clearly an undesirable arrangement for Blue Cross/Anthem subscribers. Going out-of-network and paying the difference or switching to a different insurance provider are the way out.
  • Medicare eligibility begins at the month of transplant or 3 months after starting dialysis, its important to stay working. Typically, an insurance is billed $100,000 for kidney transplant. Medicare covers only 80% of it, so the remaining 20% is covered by supplemental insurance, in most of the cases, Medicaid. If a Medicare covered patient lists in a different state, the Medicaid, being a state insurance might not cover the expenses. That leaves the patient with $20,000. There are several fundraising web sites to raise the money:
  • Go fund me
  • Help Hope Live
  • Individual insurance As of 2014, Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies from excluding anyone with a pre-existing medical condition from coverage. UPMC individual health insurance plan covers transplant in both Ohio and PA. For the individual insurance in your state, check out The Health Insurance Marketplace.