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The kidney transplant waiting list in the United States

Edmund Huang, MD
Gabriel Danovitch, MD
Section Editor
Daniel C Brennan, MD, FACP
Deputy Editor
Albert Q Lam, MD


As of January 2015, there were approximately 110,000 patients registered on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) kidney transplant waiting list in the United States; of these, 60 percent were designated as active status on the waitlist, or eligible for a transplant if a kidney is offered [1]. Registration on this list by individual transplant programs is required before a patient can be allocated a deceased-donor organ.

This topic reviews the composition of and access to the kidney transplant waitlist in the United States, as well as the management of patients while they await kidney transplantation.

The details of the allocation algorithm for deceased-donor kidneys and issues related to the evaluation of the kidney transplant candidate are discussed separately. (See "Organ sharing in kidney transplantation" and "Evaluation of the potential renal transplant recipient".)


Candidates may be registered on the waiting list and accrue time towards deceased-donor kidney transplantation at any time after a diagnosis of irreversible kidney disease is made and the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) decreases to ≤20 mL/min. The GFR can be determined by any modality, including direct measurement or any of the available estimating equations. (See "Assessment of kidney function", section on 'Assessment of GFR'.)

For candidates ≥18 years old, the calculation of waiting time (which is used to prioritize candidates for kidney allocation) is based upon the earliest of the following:

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 16, 2015.
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