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Undergoing a Pancreas Transplant Operation at Tampa General Hospital

physician monitoring a patientIf you are on Tampa General Hospital’s waiting list for a pancreas transplant, your operation could be performed at any time. As soon as a suitable organ becomes available, a TGH transplant coordinator will notify you via phone call. You will be required to come to the hospital as soon as possible so the procedure can be performed, and you’ll need to have a friend or family member drive you to the hospital. This notification can come at any time, so it is extremely important that you provide TGH with accurate, updated contact information not only for yourself but also for family and friends so that you can be reached promptly. When a TGH transplant coordinator does call to inform you that it is time for your pancreas transplant operation, you will be asked to provide an update on your current health status. Then, the transplant coordinator will:

  • Instruct you on whether to stop taking any prescribed medications

  • Inform you as to whether you should stop consuming foods and liquids

  • Advise you on the items to bring with you to TGH, such as a fully charged cell phone (along with the transplant coordinator’s name and number to the hospital) and your transplant handbook

After you arrive at TGH and are admitted, you will be prepped for your pancreas transplant operation. The surgery generally takes between three and six hours, and the surgical staff will keep your family informed throughout your pancreas transplant operation. Once the procedure is completed, you will be moved to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) for monitored recovery. When you awaken following your pancreas transplant operation, several tubes will be in your body, including an endotracheal tube to help breathe, a Foley catheter to drain your bladder, a nasogastric tube to keep your stomach empty, and intravenous lines to administer medicines, fluids, and transfusions, and to take blood samples and check fluid pressures in the body. When you are stable and no longer require the assistance of the breathing tube, you will be moved to a private room in the transplant unit.

At this time, a family member may stay with you in your room so long as no medical reasons prohibit it; however, children under 12 are not permitted to visit the transplant unit due to a high risk of infection after surgery for transplant patients. Our staff will facilitate a visit with a child in a waiting room or the main lobby, so please let us know if you will have guests that require special arrangements. You should anticipate spending at least seven days at Tampa General Hospital following your pancreas transplant operation, though the length of your stay can change depending on how your pancreas graft is functioning. During this post-transplant recovery period, you will receive daily blood tests and X-rays of your pancreas, and daily visits from your surgeons and health care team. Recovery doesn’t end when you leave the hospital; you’ll have special care needs for the rest of your life. To help prepare you for these new requirements, you and your support person(s) will attend pharmacy education and nutrition classes before you’re discharged from TGH.

Because we’ll need to assess your daily lab values, blood pressure readings, blood sugar levels, and weight to ensure you’re responding properly to your pancreas transplant operation, you’ll also be taught how to check and record all of this data in your transplant log, which you’ll need to bring with you to all follow-up clinic visits at the pancreas transplant hospital.