I was a Kidney donor candidate for a close friend.
Kidney transplants are much like a dance contest. As with a couple in a dance contest, every movement is synchronized. The harvesting doctor and the transplant doctor are the partners, the ticking clock is the judge and the aircraft pilot is the orchestra. Each plays a crucial role in the routine.
Both the harvesting team and the transplant team; each with their own jobs, go into what is known as a lock down surgery room. No one in allowed in or out after the doors are closed and locked. The lead dancer, in this case the harvesting doctor, starts off first and sets the pace. If one of the partners, in this case the transplant doctor, starts too soon it throws everything off. Timing is everything. If one of the partners starts the procedure too early or too late all is lost.
The harvesting Doctor must communicate with the transplant doctor at all times so he knows when to start the procedure on his end. Often times they can be miles apart. The harvesting doctor also must be in communication with the aircraft pilot so he is on standby. Every second counts. The ticking clock has been started the minute the donor is pronounced dead. (in some cases the donor is a live relative.) After the kidney is harvested the harvesting doctor has to make one last examination of the kidney to make sure it is a good specimen. If for some reason there is a flaw in the kidney, the whole procedure is shut down. This is why the transplant doctor cannot start to remove the damage kidney too soon. Yes, a recipient can live with only one kidney; however, many times the good kidney has been put under such a strain that it could be impaired as well. The dance is over and if the clock is still ticking all has gone well.
After the lost examination done and all is a go. The harvested kidney is place in a specially marked cooler and it is rushed out to the aircraft. Depending on the length of the flight, the transplant doctor is notified. The aircraft polite notifies the transplant team he is in bound and a member of the transplant team stands by ready to rush the cooler into the surgery room. Here is where the transplant doctor has to hook up all the nerves and vanes correctly making sure the new kidney is receiving blood and expelling the waste.