If you are considering a kidney transplant, think about the kidney transplant center you go to. You can choose where to go. Medicare and private PPO insurance cover most of the 246 kidney transplant centers in the US, and if you do have these types of insurance you can go to any center near you, near a relative or across the country. kidney transplant expert witness

The choice of your transplant center is one of the first and most important decisions you will make. This is because their results will affect your own odds for a successful kidney transplant. The better a center is and more of their patients do well, the more likely you will do well too.

How do you then find the best center for you?

1. Look at their results

2. Don’t let size fool you

3. Look at their wait

1. Look at the kidney transplant center’s results

  • How many of their patients live long: Patient survival rates are different at different centers. Patients who go to some of the below average centers face two times the risk of death 3 years after their transplant compared to those who go to better centers. Though no one can predict your own life expectancy after a kidney transplant, going to a better center that lowers your mortality risk improves your chances for a longer life.
  • How many of their transplants last: Your new kidney won’t last for ever but it can last for 10 or even 30 years. How long it will last not only depends on your health condition, but also on the kidney transplant center. Each center has different ways of following up their patients after their transplant. They also follow different protocols for managing necessary medications after surgery. All these practices combined lead to differences in how long each center’s patients keep their kidney. In fact, the gap in the transplants that fail within 3 years between the best and worst centers is from a low of 11% at the best center to a high of 25% at the worst. This means that if you go at one of the worst centers you could be the one out of every four patients whose transplant fails after 3 years of surgery. If you go to one of the best centers you cut your risk of losing your kidney by half.
  • How well they manage complications: Complications after kidney transplantation are primarily due to the body’s attempt to reject the new kidney as something foreign. The many medications patients need to take to manage these rejection episodes also cause complications. To prevent and manage these complications, all centers follow their patients regularly for a year after their surgery. However, what they do during this follow-up phase is very different from center to center and this affects their patients’ complication rates. In fact, kidney transplant centers are most different in this area: Patients who go to the worst centers experience complications 59% of the time while those who go to the best only 26% of the time. This means that if you go to a better center, you double your chance of living a healthy life outside hospitals.

2. Don’t let size fool you

  • Bigger doesn’t mean better: Many patients and even doctors assume that a larger center is better. The logic behind this is that if a center does more kidney transplant procedures, the more practice and experience it gets. This is true up to a certain point. If a center does many transplants but it does not have enough doctors and nurses to care for so many patients the attention for each patient decreases. The result is that each patient’s care suffers and that center’s results get worse. There are centers that do hundreds of kidney transplants but their results are not the best or are even among the worst.