Transplantation is a procedure that is done to replace one of your organs with a healthy one from someone else. The surgery is only one part of a complex, long-term process.
Several experts will help you prepare for the procedure, and make sure you are comfortable before, during, and after surgery.
Transplant surgery is typically done to replace a diseased body part with a healthy one.
SOLID ORGAN TRANSPLANTS
BLOOD/BONE MARROW TRANSPLANTS (STEM CELL TRANSPLANTS)
You may need a stem cell transplant if you have a disease that damages the cells in bone marrow, or if you received high doses of chemotherapy or radiation.
Depending on the type of transplant, your procedure may be called a bone marrow transplant, a cord blood transplant, or a peripheral blood stem cell transplant. All three use stem cells, which are immature cells that give rise to all blood cells. Stem cell transplants are similar to blood transfusions and generally do not need surgery.
There are two different types of transplants:
For more information, see: Bone marrow transplant
THE TRANSPLANT SERVICES TEAM
The transplant services team includes carefully selected experts, including:
BEFORE A TRANSPLANT
You will have a complete medical exam to identify and treat all medical problems, such as kidney and heart disease.
The transplant team will evaluate you and review your medical history to determine if you meet the criteria for organ transplantation. Most types of organ transplants have guidelines detailing what type of patient is most likely to benefit from a transplant and will be able to manage the challenging process.
If the transplant team believes you are a good candidate for a transplant, you will be put on a national waiting list. Your place on a waiting list is based on a number of factors, which depend on the type of transplant you are receiving.
Once you are on the waiting list, the search for a matching donor begins. Types of donors depend on your specific transplant, but include:
After donating an organ, living donors can live a normal, healthy life.
You should identify family, friends, or other caregivers who can offer help and support during and after the transplant process.
You will also want to prepare your home to make it comfortable for when you return after being released from the hospital.
AFTER A TRANSPLANT
How long you stay in the hospital depends on the type of transplant that you have. During your time in the hospital, you will be seen daily by the transplant services team.
Your transplant services coordinators will arrange for your discharge. They will discuss with you plans for care at home, transportation to clinic visits, and housing, if needed.
You will be told how to take care of yourself after the transplant. This will include information about:
After leaving the hospital, you will return home.
You will have periodic follow-ups with the transplant team, as well as with your primary care doctor and any other specialists that may be recommended. The transplant services team will be available to answer any questions that you may have.
American Cancer Society. What is a bone marrow or stem cell transplant? Accessed March 16, 2010.
Bishop MR, Pavletic SZ. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG, eds. Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 32.
Herman M, Keaveny AP. Organ transplantation. In: Walsh D, Caraceni AT, Fainsinger R, et al, eds. Palliative Medicine. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 183.
Updated by: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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