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How Long Does Kidney Donor Testing Take?

Kari Rancourt, Living Donor Transplant Coordinator, Hartford Hospital

When you apply to become a living kidney donor, you will need to undergo several tests before you are approved to become a donor.

This includes a wide variety of tests to assess your kidney function and overall health. (For more information on the types of tests you will need to undergo as a potential living kidney donor, see our blog post What Tests Do Kidney Donors Have to Take Before Transplant?)

While the full range of testing can be completed in as little as one day, in many cases testing can take longer—weeks, or even months.

Additional time may be required for the following reasons:

  • Tests must be repeated: Some tests, such as the 24-hour urine test, may need to be repeated if the results are inconclusive or the test has not been performed correctly.
  • The center has identified an abnormal result or condition: The transplant center may want to monitor a condition, such as blood pressure or a heart condition, in order to ensure that the donor is medically qualified to become a donor and will not suffer any ill effects from the donation.
  • The potential donor must make lifestyle modifications: Occasionally, a center may want a potential donor to make some changes before donation surgery, such as losing weight or lowering their blood pressure. If the donor candidate is a smoker, they must quit at least six weeks prior to donation surgery.
  • Preventative tests are required: Sometimes, donor testing will be delayed because one or more separate preventative tests are required before testing can begin. These may include a PSA test for men, a Pap smear and mammogram for women, or a colonoscopy for both men and women over 45. Being proactive and scheduling routine health maintenance with your PCP will help prevent delays.
  • Transplant center schedules: The biggest factor in determining how long donor testing will take is the transplant center itself. Testing time varies widely between centers. Larger centers tend to be faster with testing because they have more personnel, while smaller centers sometimes need to space testing out over weeks or months to accommodate staff schedules.

If you’d like to expedite donor testing, all Donor Care Network Centers of Excellence have committed to performing all standard workup testing in one day (usually over the course of around 8 hours) to avoid the inconvenience of making multiple trips to a transplant center. If additional testing is needed, this will likely be done on a separate day. Donor safety is always the top priority of any transplant center, and sometimes the only way to determine level of risk is with very thorough testing.

It is absolutely OK to contact the transplant team to inquire about the results of your evaluation. It’s important for you to stay informed throughout the donation process, and your transplant team should be happy to provide you with updates and address any questions or concerns you may have.

Please check with your center to determine their specific testing protocol. For a list of Donor Care Network centers, visit donorcarenet.org.

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