The Transplant Process
The Initial Visit
The initial visit is the first step in the transplantation process for eligible patients, for any organ. During this visit, you will meet a transplant coordinator and the primary physician who will direct your progress through the transplant evaluation process.
This visit allows these transplant team members to review your medical history, current medications and to answer your questions. You'll be asked to bring any laboratory test results, x-rays, or EKGs and a current list of your medications to this visit. You may eat, drink, and take your medications as usual. This appointment may take three to four hours.
The results may be one of the following:
- Your condition is too early to be considered for transplantation
- Further diagnostic tests are needed to further investigate your illness. These tests can be done through your personal physician.
- You have other medical conditions that do not allow us to consider you for transplantation because transplant surgery would be more harmful to you than beneficial.
- There are no absolute contraindications noted and your condition warrants a full transplant evaluation in the near future. In that case, the transplant physician will discuss his/her opinion with you before your visit ends.
The Transplant Evaluation
During this phase of the transplant process, you will go through medical testing, a psychosocial assessment, and consultations with our transplant physicians to see if you are a potential candidate for organ transplantation. This is also a time for you and your family to learn as much about transplantation as possible. If your condition is stable, your evaluation may be done on an outpatient basis, and you'll go home at night.
During the day, you'll be assigned a private room in our outpatient clinic. The evaluation usually takes place over three to four days. Each day's visit will last between 10 and 12 hours. You will be able to rest in your room between tests, and consultations and meals will be provided. Please do not eat anything after midnight on the day before your appointment. You may drink water. We will take fasting blood samples.
The coordinator involved in your evaluation will call you before your appointment and let you know if there are medications that we don't want you to take. Your test results will be presented to our Transplant Medical Review Board, which meets once a week. This board consists of transplant physicians and specialists, not your transplant doctor or coordinator, makes the decision about transplant candidates.
The results may be one of the following:
- You are too early to be considered for transplantation
- Diagnostic tests are needed to further investigate your illness. These tests can be done through your personal physician.
- You have other medical or psychosocial conditions that do not allow us to consider you for transplantation because transplant surgery would be more harmful to you than beneficial.
- There are no contraindications noted in your evaluation and the Medical Review Board has identified you as a good candidate for transplant surgery. As soon as authorization ahs been obtained from your insurance carrier, you will be placed on the waiting list.
Transplant surgery takes three to eight hours depending on the type of transplant surgery and the preparation time needed. After the operation, most patients will stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) for several days until they are stable. However, ICU care may not be required for kidney transplant patients.
Once you're stable enough to leave the ICU, you'll move to the Transplant Unit for continued care and education before discharge. While there, you and your family members will learn about anti-rejection medications, suture line care, diet, exercise, and healthy living practices. You'll receive written information to read and study. If no medical reasons prohibit it, a family member may stay in your room in the Transplant Unit.
Because transplant patients have a high risk of infection, we ask that children under 12 years of age not visit the Transplant Unit. We will facilitate a visit with a child under 12 in a waiting room on an adjacent unit or in the Main Lobby.
Once you're able to leave the hospital, you'll be discharged to the care of a family member or other caregiver. Nurse practitioners or transplant coordinators and physicians are on call to assess problems that occur after discharge. Please call them if you identify a problem.