Glossary of terms

​ABO blood group

Red blood cells have complex chemical substances on their surface. These substances are different for each blood group. The blood group system, which is important in transplantation, is known as the ABO system. Within the ABO system people can be one of four types – O, A, B, AB.


Structures usually proteins, which can be detected by the immune system. If the body is exposed to foreign antigens, for example from a blood transfusion or a pregnancy, it can start an immune (fighting) response and form antibodies.

Altruistic donors

This term is used for donors who intend to donate a kidney to someone that they do not know.


Antibodies are proteins present in the blood that detect a foreign antigen. If the foreign antigen is detected at a later time the body is ready to destroy it.

Cross match test

This is done in the laboratory. The serum (the clear liquid in blood) of the potential recipient is mixed with white blood cells of a potential donor. If there are antibodies in the serum that damage the cells then this potential donor would be unsuitable for this recipient.

CT scan

Computer tomography enables images of the inside of your body to be obtained harmlessly and painlessly. The specially designed system has a rotating xray source, moving around the body, emitting a narrow xray beam.

ECG or Electrocardiogram

An ECG is a recording of heart electrical activity. Electrodes, pads with wires linking them to a recorder, are put on the chest, arms and legs. These electrodes pick up the electrical signal from the heart, transfer it to the recorder and a graph is printed out. It is a painless test.

HLA antigens

Human Leukocyte Antigens are found on the surface of white blood cells. They are there to help the body regulate its immune response and are important for the body to survive. They also indicate whether a transplanted kidney is likely to be tolerated or rejected. A half set of HLA antigens is inherited from the mother and a half set from the father.

Ultrasound scan

A scan that is performed in the Radiology Department. Ultrasound is high frequency sound that is beyond the range of human hearing. A probe is moved over the skin, sending and receiving ultrasound signals, which are changed into images of the kidneys and bladder. This is a painless procedure.

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Page last reviewed: 18 July 2013