Transplant Surgery

Transplant Surgery

When you get the call that a deceased donor organ is available for you, your transplant nurse coordinator will tell you when to come to the hospital. When you arrive at the hospital your blood will be drawn and you may have a chest X-ray and an EKG. A physician will examine you and review your medical history.

Your surgeon will again review with you and your family the transplant surgery and its risks, the medicines you will be taking and any research studies in which you have expressed an interest. You will then be asked to sign a form consenting to the operation.

Depending on the timing of your most recent dialysis and the results of your blood tests, you may need dialysis before going to surgery. The hospital transplant nursing staff will assist you with this and other preparations for the operation. Your final blood tests will take 4-6 hours to process before the transplant team receives the results, so you may be waiting for several hours in the hospital prior to the transplant. If your evaluation and testing indicate that everything is in order, you will be taken to the operating room.

If you are having a living-donor transplant, these tests, exams and discussions will be performed in the transplant clinic the week before your scheduled transplant date.

The operation

The kidney transplant surgery usually takes 3 to 4 hours. During the operation, the transplanted kidney is placed in the lower left or right side in the front of your body (in the area of your pelvis). The transplanted kidney is not placed near your original kidneys, which are located in the lower part of your back. Your original kidneys will remain undisturbed.

The artery that carries blood to the kidney is reconnected to a large artery in your pelvic area. The vein that removes blood from the kidney is connected to another large vein in the pelvic area. The ureter, the tube that carries urine away from the kidney, is connected to your bladder.

For a pancreas transplant, the blood vessels are connected in a similar manner. The pancreas is attached to your intestine for drainage of its secretions. A combined kidney-pancreas transplant surgery takes approximately 6 to 8 hours.

After the operation is complete, you will be taken to the recovery room. When awake and stable, a kidney transplant recipient returns to the transplant unit, while a kidney-pancreas transplant recipient goes to the Intensive Care Unit for a short stay. The surgeon will meet with your family after the surgery.
Within a day or two after surgery, you will be encouraged to get out of bed and walk around the transplant unit. Transplant nurses will teach you how to care for yourself and your new organ.

Contact Information

Transplant Program
1101 Madison
First Hill Campus, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-386-3660 or 1-800-99ORGAN (1-800-996-7426)
Fax: 206-386-3644
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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