Q & A with Harvey Mysel
 and president of the Living Kidney Donor Network

Mysel answered the following patient questions during a recent free webinar, which can be viewed here.

Q. The living kidney donor is an exact match; the process stops when we find out there may be a potential insurance problem. Later on, we find out having just one kidney is a pre-existing condition. Is this common, and do you have any recommendations?
A. The new healthcare plan passed last year has removed pre-existing problems/conditions for minors. Pre-existing conditions for adults will go away in the next year or two. So that should no longer be an issue. This has been an issue in the past, but it shouldn’t be in the future. Let me say that if you’re working for an organization, and they have a group plan, that has nothing to do with it, you would continue to get your insurance through that group plan, so that’s not affected at all. If you’re insured by a group health insurance plan that your employer offers, you would not be affected by the pre-existing condition clause.

Q. How long does a living transplant last?
A. There isn’t an exact number. Statistically, they last twice as long as one from a deceased donor.

Q. Do you have to be on dialysis to get a kidney?
A. No, you don’t. Not being on dialysis is preferable. When you’re not on dialysis, it’s called pre-emptive transplant, and there’s no reason why you need to go on dialysis. Talk to your nephrologists and ask, “Is it going to be two years or three years?” There isn’t an exact time as to when you’ll need a transplant, but your nephrologists should be able to give you a general idea.

Q. Can I donate a kidney to my sister? I’m O negativeand she’s O positive. (should we add “negative” to the first O reference?)
A. Positive and negative don’t impact kidney transplants, so unless there are other issues that are there, that’s not a problem.

Q. Why does being on dialysis for a period of time make you less of a candidate?
A. Your health diminishes while you’re on kidney dialysis. Typically, you can do home dialysis where you can be dialyzed more often, but usually it’s three times a week for three to five hours. Your kidneys function 24 hours a day, so it’s a shock to the body every time you’re dialyzed. Some people lose three, four, five pounds or more just in fluids from dialysis.


Number of kidney transplants performed in the United States. Learn More