Pediatric Kidney Transplant Waiting List

If your child has kidney failure and needs a kidney transplant, he or she must get on the waiting list.

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) handles all organ transplant waiting lists in the United States.

You may turn to living kidney donors or kidney exchange programs in hopes of finding a donor more quickly. We'll still place your child on the national waiting list in case a deceased donor's kidney becomes available first.

How Does My Child Get on the Kidney Transplant Waiting List?

Our kidney transplant team must evaluate and approve your child for the transplant waiting list. We'll do some tests to learn if they're qualified for placement on the list.

These test results will also yield a “score” that decides their place in line on the waiting list.

Many factors affect your child's place on the waiting list, such as:

  • How long your child has been on dialysis or the waiting list.
  • Your child's blood type.
  • How your child's immune system matches a potential donor’s.
  • If your child needs more than one organ transplant.

What to Do Once Your Child Is on the Waiting List

Once your child is on the waiting list, do the following to maintain your child's eligibility:

  • Bring your child to all scheduled tests.
  • Tell us if your health insurance changes.
  • Inform your transplant coordinator if you travel and won't be able to get to the hospital within 12 hours.
  • Contact us if your child's health changes.
  • Be ready at all times to receive a call that we've found a possible donor.
  • Tell us if your contact info changes.

Your child's monthly blood test

It may surprise you to learn that we must draw your child's blood once a month for typing. This is because children with kidney failure often receive blood products that can expose their immune systems to harmful foreign matter.

Inactive status on the waiting list

Some children may move to “inactive” status for various reasons such as:

  • Travel that takes them outside the 12-hour window for getting to the hospital.
  • Missing monthly blood tests.
  • Failing to let us know changes in contact info.

It's vital to keep in close contact with your child's transplant coordinator.

If your child becomes inactive for any reason, he or she won't lose the time already spent on the active waiting list.

Support During Your Child's Time on the Waiting List

There's no way to predict how long your child will wait for a transplant, and waiting can be stressful. It's crucial for parents and other caregivers to look after their own health and well-being.

To make sure you and your child have the support you need during this time, our social workers can refer:

  • Support groups
  • Online resources
  • Family counseling

Our team is on call 24 hours a day, always ready for your child's transplant if we receive a matching kidney.

If your child receives a kidney transplant, they'll need follow-up care and routine testing.

If you live far from Pittsburgh, you may want to look into long-term local housing such as:

Learn More About Pediatric Kidney Transplant

From our health library

Contact the Kidney Transplant Program at UPMC Children's

If you have questions, concerns, or unexpected needs about your child's kidney transplant, contact our team at 412-692-5182.