What to Expect During the Organ Transplant Process

The process of receiving a new organ isn’t easy, but in many cases the outcomes outweigh the challenges. If you or a loved one are in need of a transplant, knowing in advance what to expect can provide peace of mind. And if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out – we’re here to support you at every stage of the process.

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Blood & Marrow Transplantation

Recipient Preparation

Before the transplant, your transplant team will perform a variety of evaluations. You may be in the hospital up to 10 days before your procedure for preparation.

Donor Preparation

If a potential donor is found, he/she will undergo tests to determine the extent of the match. Once approved, the stem cells will be collected during a non-invasive procedure.

During the Transplant

High doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy are used to destroy the cancerous cells. The healthy stem cells are administered into the bone marrow during a non-surgical procedure. The stem cells then begin reproducing – growing new, healthy blood cells.

After Surgery

After the transplant, it’s important to prevent and treat infection, and manage side effects and complications. This involves blood tests, close monitoring, and a protected environment. You may be required to stay in the hospital for several weeks.

After leaving the hospital, it can be months or longer before you are able to return to work and regular activities.

Heart Transplants & Mechanical Circulatory Support Devices

Before the Transplant

In order to be considered for a heart transplant, your transplant team will evaluate your psychological, social and medical history, conduct a physical examination, and perform various diagnostic tests.

Once you have been accepted as a candidate, you’ll be placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) list. When a heart becomes available, recipients are selected based on the severity of their condition and their blood type. When selected, you will need to go to the hospital immediately.

After the Transplant

Following surgery, your vitals and immunosuppression (anti-rejection) medications will be closely monitored. As you improve, you’ll begin physical therapy and breathing exercises. Your activity will gradually increase as you get out of bed and walk around for longer periods of time.

Once home, your activity will remain restricted and your rehabilitation will last for several months. It will also be important to take your anti-rejection medications, as these will be required for the rest of your life.

Kidney Transplants

Before the Transplant

Candidates for a kidney transplant will first undergo a thorough medical exam. Your case will then be shared with a team of specialists that selects the best option after reviewing your health and preferences.

If transplantation is the best option, you’ll be placed on a waiting list. The time you have already spent on dialysis will be factored into where on the list you are placed.

While you are waiting, our team will work with you to identify a living donor since this provides the best outcome. This may be someone in your family, a friend or your personal network. If you are unable to identify a living donor, you will remain on the waiting list until matched.

After the Transplant

The usual hospital stay is 5 to 7 days. Your transplant team will offer support and education such as how to prevent rejection and daily care after discharge. Your follow-up care will include anti-rejection therapy management and ongoing education.

Liver Transplants

Before the Transplant

If you’re a candidate for a liver transplant, your health and well-being will be assessed to determine if transplantation is in your best interest. It’s important to begin this process before additional health complications develop, as these could make you ineligible.

Using your evaluations and transplant selection criteria, a team of specialists will determine if you are a good candidate.

If accepted for transplantation, you’ll be added to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) organ sharing list. Patients are prioritized based on their MELD (Model for End-stage Liver Disease) score so that the sickest patients receive transplants first.

Once you are selected to receive a donor liver, you will need to be at the hospital immediately.

After the Transplant

Patients typically stay in the hospital for 7 to 10 days following transplantation. Your transplant team will offer support and education such as how to prevent rejection and daily care after discharge. Your follow-up care will include anti-rejections therapy management and ongoing education.

Pancreas Transplants

Before the Transplant

Candidates for transplantation generally have Type 1 diabetes that is out of control despite medical intervention. They usually also have nerve damage, eye problems, or other complications.

People with Type 2 diabetes normally are not candidates for pancreas transplantation because they still produce some insulin, so a new pancreas would not help them.

If you opt for a transplant, you may be asked to stop smoking or lose weight before surgery.

After the Transplant

After a successful transplant, you’ll no longer need to take insulin. Instead, the new pancreas will create insulin for you. You can eat a regular diet, too. You’ll have few or no episodes of low or very high blood sugar or insulin shock and your risk for kidney damage will go down.

Pancreas-Kidney Transplants

Before the Transplant

Before you can be selected for a transplant, you will be thoroughly evaluated by our transplant team. Pre-transplant testing gives a clear picture of your overall health status and can identify potential problems before they occur. Using your evaluations and transplant selection criteria, a team of specialists will determine if you are a good candidate.

If accepted for transplantation, you’ll be added to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list.

Patients are prioritized on the waiting list based on waiting time, compatibility between donor and recipient blood types and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) testing.

After the Transplant

The usual hospital stay following transplantation is 5 to 7 days. Your transplant team will offer support and education such as how to prevent rejection and daily care after discharge. Your follow-up care will include anti-rejection therapy management and ongoing education.

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