MUSC kidney transplant wait times to increase following new national allocation system

Updated: Apr. 12, 2021 at 5:33 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Doctors at the Medical University of South Carolina say the average wait time for a kidney transplant at MUSC is three and a half years.

Last month, the United Network for Organ Sharing implemented a new nationwide allocation system allowing patients to receive a kidney from a deceased donor within a 250 mile radius of a donor hospital.

MUSC’s Division Director for Transplant Surgery Dr. Derek DuBay says this will increase wait times due to the new distance guidelines.

DuBay says projections indicate that it could take a year and half longer at MUSC for people to get a transplant from a deceased donor with the recent changes.

“For example, a donor kidney in the upstate right now will be offered to 17 transplant centers,” DuBay said. “Whereas before, primarily it will be offered to MUSC.”

MUSC is the one of the largest kidney transplant programs in the country.

It’s the only solid organ transplant center in South Carolina.

“This has increased the logistical complexity of the kidney allocation right now,” DuBay said. “Unfortunately, most local donors now with the kidneys don’t go to local recipients.”

DuBay says it’s important to have a relationship between the transplant center and donor community.

“It’s not something that we are going to be able to roll back, so it’s here to stay.” DuBay said. “It’s something we need to figure out how to perform to the best of our ability to increase transplant opportunities for South Carolinians, but overall, it’s going to adversely affect the people in the state of South Carolina.”

While there are changes to the deceased donor allocation. Living donors can choose who receives their kidney.

Maryann Agnello is on a mission to find a living kidney donor for her husband Joe Agnello. He has stage five kidney failure.

“I have three wonderful children, I have two grandchildren, my beautiful wife, there’s reason to stick around,” Joe said.

Maryann’s car says, “Hero needed to donate a kidney for a loving husband and grandpa, all blood types can apply.” It says you can reach them at or 843-792-5097.

Joe is on dialysis dealing with symptoms from type 1 diabetes.

“I love this man, I’ll do anything to save his life,” she said.

Maryann went through testing to see if she could donate her kidney, but doctors told her she was not a match.

The family says there are strangers who have offered to go through the tests to find out if they can donate. Joe is waiting for his kidney match.

“It just touches your heart, it touches your soul. People want to save your life who never met you,” the couple said.

You can find more information on the living donor program at MUSC here.

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