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What to Expect With Your Kidney Transplant Surgery at Tampa General Hospital

The moment a suitable kidney becomes available, you’ll be called to Tampa General Hospital for your transplant surgery. Because that call can come at any time, you’ll need to be prepared to always answer your phone. You’ll also want to provide your transplant coordinator with contact numbers for your friends and family in case we cannot reach you directly. Before having you report to Tampa General for your kidney transplant surgery, your transplant donor coordinator will give you several important instructions. You’ll need to:

  • Give your donor coordinator an update on your overall health status
  • Stop eating and drinking, and let your coordinator know if you have recently taken insulin
  • Go over your medications and determine if you need to discontinue their use
  • Pack a bag with everything you’ll need for your hospital stay, including your transplant handbook and a fully charged cell phone in case we need to reach you before you arrive
  • Have a friend or family member drive you to Tampa General as soon as possible; remember to also bring the donor coordinator’s name and hospital’s phone number during your trip

We’ll tell the admissions department that you’re on your way; once you’ve checked in, you and your family will be directed to a pre-operative room. There, your transplant team will conduct blood tests and prepare you for your kidney transplant surgery. When it’s time for you to go to the operating room, your family will be directed to the waiting room. The surgical staff will keep them updated throughout the kidney transplantation procedure, which will take about three to six hours.

kidney and pancreas referral form buttonWhen you wake up from your kidney transplant surgery, you’ll be in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). You’ll notice that you’ll have several tubes in your body; these include an endotracheal tube to help you breathe, a nasogastric tube to keep your stomach empty, and a urinary tube to drain your bladder. There will also be intravenous (IV) lines to administer fluids, medicines, and blood transfusions, and to check fluid pressures in the body and take blood samples. Your transplant team will give you medications to minimize pain and help you relax.

Once you’re stable and can breathe on your own, you’ll spend the rest of your recovery in a private room in the transplant unit. When your transplant team gives you medical clearance, a family member can stay with you overnight. However, because patients have a high risk of infection after their transplant surgery, kidney transplant recipients will need to visit with children under the age of 12 in an adjacent unit.

Throughout the rest of your stay at Tampa General, you’ll meet with your surgeons and nephrology team on a daily basis. They’ll conduct X-rays and blood tests to make sure your body is accepting the new kidney as intended. In general, you can expect to spend about seven days in the hospital after your kidney transplant surgery, although this may vary based on your body’s response to the new organ.

Before you’re discharged, you and your support person(s) will be required to participate in several educational sessions – such as a pharmacy education class and a nutrition class. You’ll also receive instructions for taking your blood pressure, blood sugar, and lab values, so that you can properly maintain your transplant log, which you’ll need to bring to your follow-up visits. And, you’ll be given a schedule for follow-up visits so we can ensure you’re properly recovering from your kidney transplant surgery.

Contact Tampa General Hospital for more information about our kidney transplant program, which is ranked #3 in the nation by volume. Call 1-800-505-7769 (press 5 for the kidney transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator), or call the coordinator directly at (813) 844-8686.