There are well over 100,000 Chronic Kidney Disease patients on the Kidney Transplant Waiting list. Most patients do everything they can to remain healthy and active so that they can receive a living or deceased (dead) Kidney Transplant including attempting to increase the strength of their immune systems to avoid sickness and infection. Many Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients know that the immune system naturally forms antibodies as a protective response against bacteria and viruses - which is great. However, in the context of transplantation, antibodies are good when they are ready to attack foreign invaders that can lead to illness, but antibodies can also be ready to attack foreign tissue such as a new Kidney Transplant - which is very bad. The following tips will help you avoid high antibodies as much as possible to improve the odds of receiving a Kidney Transplant and other insights to lower antibodies if they climb too high.
Question: Does having high antibodies make it more difficult for me to receive a kidney transplant?
Answer: In most cases, yes. The higher a Chronic Kidney Disease patient's Antibody count the more difficult it is for him/her to find a safe Kidney Transplant Donor match. Some patients with antibodies at 90% or higher have been waiting for a Kidney Transplant for 11 to 15 years. Fortunately, the KidneyBuzz.com Team has been able to help some high Antibody patients find selfless Living Kidney Donors much sooner (learn more).
Question: What causes elevated Antibodies?
Answer: High Antibodies are formed by the immune system when you are exposed to proteins that appear similar to tissue types. This most commonly occurs in the setting of previous transplantation, pregnancy, or blood transfusion (common among Dialysis patients). Still, occasionally Antibodies can spike as a result of infection, vaccination or even unknown causes. Unfortunately, once you have High Antibodies, they do not go away on their own. Antibodies can be difficult to remove from the body, although different treatments have been tried and for some patients have been successful (see below).
Question: How do I know my level of Antibodies?
Answer: Your Transplant Team can tell you if you have what is considered High Antibodies since this measure is calculated when you are placed on the Kidney Transplant Waiting List to estimate the percentage of donors with whom a particular recipient would be incompatible. Patients with High Antibody levels get priority for transplantation because it is harder to find compatible kidney donors. The good news is that most patients awaiting kidney transplantation have low levels of Antibodies, but it is estimated that 9,000 patients on the waitlist have High Antibodies which are greater than 95%.
Question: If I am found to have higher Antibody levels then what are my options?
Answer: Although it may take longer to get a transplant if you have High Antibody Levels - do not lose hope! There are many options available for patients with High Antibodies. Seek a specialized transplant center like Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on the West Coast or Johns Hopkins University Transplant Center on the East Coast (email firstname.lastname@example.org for suggestions in your area). These centers may offer you the opportunity to take part in Human Trials for a cutting edge solution or assign you to a Paired Donation or Chain Donation list. Also, be sure to outreach for Living Kidney Donors who may offer a close match option for you. Click here to request assistance from our team in your search.
Have you struggled with High Antibodies? If not, what is currently your biggest obstacle to receiving a Kidney Transplant (i.e. age, blood type, the length of the list in your area)? Share your responses with the over 60,000 Friends who have liked the KidneyBuzz.com Facebook Page (click here). Also, follow the nearly 160,000 monthly individual viewers who visit KidneyBuzz.com regularly for the latest daily news and information which teach those with Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Kidney Transplant, Diabetes, and Hypertension how to better manage and improve their lives. Anjan Das (Dialysis patient) said, "Kidney Buzz is a ray of hope in my life...."