What to Expect During The Transplant Process

Kidney transplant patients receive comprehensive care at the George Washington University Hospital Transplant Institute and GWU Medical Faculty Associates.


Once referred for a kidney transplant, you will attend a class taught by a transplant nurse coordinator who will outline the entire transplant process, from initial evaluations to surgery and after care.

Next, you will undergo a medical exam and series of tests performed by a transplant nephrologist and schedule appointments with a social worker, dietitian, financial coordinator and the transplant surgeons. This team reviews the results of your tests and determines if a transplant is the best option for you. If selected as a candidate, you will have blood tests to discover how sensitive your body may be to a donor kidney. These tests are vital in finding the correct donated kidney for you. Your donor, if living, will also undergo blood tests to help complete the match.

You will be listed on the national The United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list. UNOS provides a toll-free patient services line to help transplant candidates, recipients and family members understand organ allocation practices and transplantation data. You may also call this number to discuss any concerns or experiences you would like to share about your transplant center or transplantation system in general. The toll-free patient services line is 1-888-894-6361.

Waiting Period

Your referring nephrologist and primary care physician will continue to manage your healthcare needs while you wait for your transplant. While on the waiting list, you will need to make periodic visits to the GW Transplant Institute so that doctors can assess changes in your health status, address concerns and provide support. Visits to the Transplant Institute do not substitute routine primary care physician visits.

Changes in your medical condition can influence the time to transplantation. It is important that the GW Transplant Institute knows about any significant changes in your medical condition or hospitalizations. Please have your referring nephrologist and primary care physician contact us with regular updates of your current health status.


If you are undergoing a live donor transplant, your surgery will be scheduled in advance. 

If you are receiving a deceased donor transplant, UNOS matches you with a deceased donor and contacts the transplant surgeon and clinical transplant coordinator. The surgeon determines if the organ is suitable based on an established medical criteria, organ condition, recipient condition, patient availability and organ transportation. The coordinator “on-call” will then contact your nephrologist. If the coordinator obtains medical clearance from your nephrologist, the coordinator will contact you.

The coordinator will give you special instructions to prepare for surgery and we will perform a final test to conclude your compatibility with the donor organ.

Post-Transplant Care

After surgery, takes approximately three to four hours, you will go to the post anesthesia care unit (PACU) or recovery room. From there, you will be closely monitored until you are ready to complete your hospital stay in the surgical unit.

Your body will need help adjusting to your new kidney. Our transplant team will prescribe medications that will decrease the risk of rejection while closely monitoring your condition. Working together with your nephrologist and primary care physician, we will arrange effective follow-up checkups and tests.