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Improving preemptive transplant education to increase living donation rates: reaching patients earlier in their disease adjustment process

Rebecca Hays, Amy D Waterman
Progress in Transplantation 2008, 18 (4): 251-6
Patients who receive a preemptive kidney transplant before starting dialysis avoid the medical complications related to dialysis and have the highest graft success and lowest mortality rates. Because only 2.5% of incident patients receive kidney transplants preemptively, improved psychosocial education may assist more patients in accessing preemptive transplant. This article outlines (1) unique psychosocial issues affecting patients with chronic kidney disease stage 4 (glomerular filtration rates > 20 mL/min per 1.73 m2) and (2) how an educational program about preemptive living donor transplant should be designed and administered to increase access to this treatment option. Early referral patients may be overwhelmed in coping with and learning about their disease and, therefore, not ready to make a treatment decision, or they may be highly motivated to obtain a transplant to avoid dialysis and return to a normal life. An education program that defines the quality-of-life and health benefits possible with early transplant is outlined. The program is focused on minimizing the disruption of starting 2 treatment techniques and maximizing early transplant health, graft survival, employability, and retention of insurance coverage. Once the benefits of preemptive living donor transplant are outlined, educators can focus on demystifying the living donor evaluation process and assisting interested patients in planning how to find a living donor. To reach all patients, especially racial minorities, education about preemptive transplant should be available in primary-care physicians' and community nephrologists' offices, at dialysis centers, and through other kidney organizations.


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