AIM: This paper is a report of an exploration of the experiences of patients with end-stage kidney disease who were having haemodialysis. BACKGROUND: The losses and lifestyle disruptions caused by end-stage kidney disease are a fundamental source of suffering for people. The hope of a transplant is an important factor in people’s ability to cope with end-stage kidney disease and dialysis. METHOD: A Heideggerian phenomenological methodology was used. A purposive sample was selected of 16 patients with end-stage kidney disease having hospital-based haemodialysis therapy in the Republic of Ireland. Qualitative interviews were conducted in 2006-2007. Data were analysed using qualitative interpretive analysis. FINDINGS: The overarching pattern identified was ‘Waiting for a kidney transplant’. This pattern consisted of three themes: living in hope, uncertainty and being on hold. Participants described their experiences of living in hope while they waited for a kidney transplant. However, as the waiting time continued indefinitely, participants became uncertain, and this meant that they were unable to contemplate opportunities in the future. Moreover, the restrictions of haemodialysis therapy prevented them from performing many of the activities they had taken for granted in the past. Consequently, they described their experiences of being on hold while they waited for a kidney transplant. CONCLUSION: Nurses should engage in open and honest discussions with patients in relation to kidney transplantation so that they are able to recognize and address their concerns about kidney transplantation.