Pancreas Transplantation Procedure Information for TGH Transplant Patients
Your pancreas transplantation procedure will occur shortly after a compatible graft becomes available. As soon as a pancreas is ready – no matter what time of day or night it may be – a transplant donor coordinator at Tampa General Hospital will call you, so you’ll want to always keep your phone near you and answer it when it rings. It’s also necessary to provide the coordinator with contact information for family and friends to make certain that we can always reach you. During this phone call, the coordinator will ask about your current health status and provide you with important information about your upcoming pancreas transplantation procedure at TGH. He or she will also instruct you to:
- Refrain from eating and drinking
- Continue taking or stop taking your medications and insulin (depending on your particular needs)
- Ask a friend or family member to drive you to the hospital
- Prepare the materials you’ll need during your drive and your hospital stay (including your transplant handbook, cell phone, TGH’s number, and the name of your coordinator)
Once at TGH, you will check in with the admissions department and be taken to your pre-operative room. From there, you will undergo a series of blood tests and final preparations for your pancreas transplantation procedure before you are taken into the operating room. Your family is allowed to stay in your room until this point, after which they will be asked to move to the waiting area. Your surgical coordinator and the operating room staff will keep your family informed throughout the entire pancreas transplantation, a procedure that generally takes between three to six hours to complete. When the pancreas transplantation procedure is complete, you will slowly wake up in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). You will recover in this unit until you have stabilized and can breathe without the help of your breathing tube. In addition to this tube, several others will have been placed in your body during your pancreas transplantation procedure; these include a catheter to drain your bladder and a nasogastric tube to empty your stomach and prevent nausea. You will also have several intravenous lines (IVs) that will be used to complete blood transfusions, administer fluids and medicines, check blood samples, and monitor fluid pressures in the body after your pancreas transplant surgery.
During this time, you will be given medications to keep you relaxed and control your pain, and your immediate family will be permitted to see you within approved visiting hours. After you have had your breathing tube removed, you will be moved into a private room in the transplant unit, where a family member can stay with you if no health reasons prevent it. We ask that children under 12 refrain from visiting the transplant unit, but we can arrange meetings in an adjacent unit or in the main lobby. When you’re recovering from your pancreas transplantation procedure over the next seven days or so (the stay may be longer depending on how your pancreas and / or kidney is functioning), your surgeon and other pancreas transplant care team members will check in with you every day. They will perform blood tests, take X-rays, and take other measures to test for organ rejection. During the week after your pancreas transplantation procedure, you will learn to track your lab values, weight, blood sugar levels, blood pressure readings, and other vitals and record them in a log that you will need to bring to your follow-up clinic visits. Your support person (a family member or close friend) will learn with you and even attend nutrition classes and pharmacy education courses before you leave the hospital.