The waiting list
If you do opt for a transplant - provided you are medically fit to undergo the operation - you can be put on the waiting list for a suitable kidney.
Most kidneys come from previously healthy donors who have died suddenly, although about 30% of transplanted kidneys are donated by healthy, compatible, people (when they have one kidney removed, the remaining kidney takes over).
The demand for kidneys outstrips the supply, and there is no way of knowing how long you would be on the waiting list. What you will be waiting for is a kidney that is a close match to your own body - that kidney will have the best chance of success.
Details of your tissue type and blood group will be kept on a computer at the NHS Blood and Transplant service, which holds the nationwide list of people waiting for a kidney transplant. When a kidney becomes available it is matched to the most suitable patient.
The waiting list is not like a "queue" that you join and wait for your "turn." It works on the principle of finding the right patient for the right kidney. So, although the average time spent on the waiting list is two years, it could be less - or longer - for you.
If you go on the waiting list, you will need to be prepared to go into hospital at short notice, at any time. But be aware that even if you are called to the hospital, you will need further tests to determine whether the operation can go ahead. Your blood will be reacted with the donors - if this "cross-match" is negative, then the transplant can go ahead.