The Emory Transplant Center would like to share with our transplant community some important changes to the kidney allocation system managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). As many of you know, UNOS manages the nation’s organ transplant system and helps make the best use of donated organs. More specifically, the UNOS Kidney Committee had been meeting regularly to discuss an improved kidney allocation system which resulted in the UNOS Board of Directors approving a new kidney matching system that took effect on December 4, 2014.
Under the previous system, how long a person had undergone dialysis prior to being placed on the wait list did not count. But with this new system, it has changed.
“One of the major differences is that now you will be given credit for your dialysis time that will be added on to the time you’ve been on the waiting list,” says kidney transplant surgeon Dr. Nicole Turgeon of the Emory Kidney Transplant Program.
If you began dialysis before you were listed, your wait time will be backdated to the day you began dialysis. Dr. Turgeon says the new guidelines could really help many longtime dialysis patients.
Here are some important points to note with the new system:
- The time you spend waiting for a kidney is still a major factor in organ matching.
- You will not lose credit for any time you have already spent waiting.
- If you began dialysis or met the medical definition of kidney failure at the time you were listed for transplant, your waiting time will not change.
- If you began dialysis before you were listed for a kidney transplant, the time between beginning dialysis and being listed will be added to your waiting time.
- People who have the longest potential need for a transplanted organ and those who have been difficult to match under the current system will receive greater priority under the new system.
- The new system should provide more transplant opportunities, so that everyone has a better chance to be transplanted.
“It is big news for our patients. I think it’s really going to help them in terms of getting better access to transplants,” says Dr. Turgeon.
UNOS continues to monitor the system closely to make sure it is meeting the needs of patients. For more detailed information about the new kidney allocation system, visit the UNOS website at www.unos.org.