Frequently asked questions

Waiting lists are kept for each transplantable organ - heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, intestine and pancreas.

A person is put on a transplant waiting list when they have end-stage organ failure, all other treatments have failed and their medical specialist believes they will benefit from a transplant.

Waiting times depend on the availability of suitable donated organs and the allocation of organs through the transplant waiting lists. 

When a person is put on a transplant waiting list they receive support from a transplant coordinator, who keeps them - and their family - informed of developments and timelines.

When a match is found, the transplant coordinator arranges for any necessary tests or scans, and coordinates the surgical team.

The term "Work Up" is in relation to the tests you will need to undergo before you are eligible to be placed on the waiting list. This consists of blood tests, tissue typing, physiological evaluation and a range of others specific to your transplant type. 

When a person dies in a situation where they can become an organ and/or tissue donor, the possibility of donation is raised with the family.

The Australian Organ Donor Register is checked to find out whether the deceased person had registered their decision regarding organ and tissue donation. A donation specialist will meet with the family to talk about donation.

The family of a potential donor is given time to discuss and reach a decision on whether donation will occur. If donation is agreed, documentation will confirm the donation and which organs and tissues are being donated.

All donations and transplants are performed by specialist medical teams in the Australian public health system.

The transplant coordinators who work in the clinic will call you to let you know that they may have a donor for you.  Each patient is different given, that we transplant patients who come from interstate, rural NSW and local areas.  We take all of these factors into account and sometimes donors as far away as New Zealand.  So there can be up to 6-8 hours advance notice of the transplant and sometimes as little as 2 hours.  In each case, they try to work the timing so that the patient who is the best match will receive the transplant in time.

Simply this means that you are taking medications which control the body’s ability to recognise foreign tissues such as the transplant. It also means that you are more liable to infection.  Immunosuppression can also make us all susceptible to bacterial infections. Immunosuppression is increased when a patient has an episode of rejection and early after transplant.

Yes you can travel interstate but not overseas. it is sometimes more difficult if somebody is a remote area for them to attend in a timely fashion for the transplant.  So it is always important to discuss all your travel plans with your doctor and/or the transplant co-ordinators.

Organs are allocated to transplant recipients in a fair, equitable process that takes no account of race, religion, gender, social status, disability or age - unless age is relevant to the organ matching criteria. 

Criteria used in considering potential organ transplant recipients include:

  • how well the organs match the person
  • how long the person has been waiting for a transplant
  • how urgent the transplant is
  • whether the organ can be made available to the person in time.

Organs such as the heart, lungs, liver and pancreas are matched to recipients by blood group, size compatibility and urgency. Kidneys are matched by blood group and tissue compatibility through the computerised National Organ Matching Service, administered by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.


This depends on the type of surgery that you have had.  It also depends on how much pain you have and whether you have any complications, most patients should be fit to drive within 4-6 weeks but a physiotherapy check prior to commencing driving is important as well as a discussion with your specialist.

Most patients will be discharged from hospital within 2 weeks of their transplant but it is not unusual for people to stay in hospital for 3-4 weeks or longer if there are complications

Full recovery depends how sick you were before the transplant.  It also depends on your age and any other medical complications or co-morbidities.  Tissues take time to heal and the body takes time to redevelop fitness.  So full recovery can take 6-12 months and occasionally more. 

The organs that we remove are examined for histopathology and for infection and yes research is a very important part.  Organs can be examined for research purposes doctors will make this request either at the time of listing or while on the active list.  

Absolutely not.  That is entirely a personal decision.  No one should discriminate against a patient who has had a transplant with respect to equal rights, employment opportunities or social functions.