The Transplant Process
Once you and your Physician have decided that transplantation is the best course of treatment for you, there are a series of steps you will follow. We know that this can be a stressful time as you try to understand all of the new information related to your upcoming surgery. The good news is that you are not alone and have an enormous amount of resources and support to help you through this experience.
Your responsibility is to become a true “partner” with the Kidney Transplant Team and take an active role in your healthcare. You should ask a lot of questions in order to become as educated as you can about your options and make informed decisions. Learning as much as you can about your condition will help you prepare physically and financially for the time ahead. A list of resources for researching transplantation is provided in the “Resources” section of this manual.
You will first have an evaluation to determine if you are eligible for a transplant. Once you are considered eligible and have been placed on the national waiting list for an organ, you will begin preparing a personal and financial plan as you wait for your donor organ. The waiting period varies for everyone but can range from days to years, and that in itself can be stressful. The Kidney Transplant Team will make recommendations for managing stress during this period of time.
When an organ (or a living donor) is available, you will very shortly thereafter have your surgery, spending about a week in the hospital after surgery. Post-transplant, you will have a recovery period that includes rehabilitation, medication, and a follow-up care plan that will last for the rest of your life.
Once you have had your transplant, you will have a recovery period that includes rehabilitation, medication, and a follow-up care plan that will last as long as the organ is functioning.
During each of these steps, you and your family will have access to a group of experts who can help guide, advise and counsel you. It is important that you know the people on the Kidney Transplant Team and what they will doing to help you through your transplant. At every stage, there will be someone to answer your questions or just to listen.
One of your first appointments will be with one of our Transplant Surgeons, one of the doctors who will perform your kidney transplant surgery.
A Transplant Nephrologist is a kidney doctor who specializes in transplant and is the doctor at the Crozer-Keystone Kidney Transplant Center who manages your medical care, tests, and medications. This physician does not perform the surgery but focuses on your care before and after the operation. During your evaluation, you will meet with one of our transplant Nephrologists who will review your medical history and examine you in order to help determine if you are a candidate for transplantation.
Our Urologists specialize in the unique urological needs and care of kidney transplant patients. Like our Transplant Neprhologists, these physicians do not perform the transplant surgery; rather, they focus on your care before and after the operation.
Transplant Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants
These healthcare professionals work closely with you while you are in the hospital and with the Nephrologists, Urologists and Surgeons to evaluate your health both before and after your transplant. After your transplant, our nursing staff will oversee your care throughout your in-hospital recovery.
Our Transplant Coordinators are with you throughout the entire transplant process, responsible for coordinating your treatment and follow-up care. Our Transplant Coordinators are also responsible for setting up your transplant evaluation, keeping you informed of your progress toward transplantation, and providing additional education and support while you are in the hospital as well as coordinating your yearly follow-up care.
The Clinical Immunologist has special training in the immune system and will be part of the team that evaluates and monitors you before, during and after transplantation.
Good nutrition has been proven to significantly enhance healing and outcome following surgery. Our Dietitians are available throughout the transplant process to provide nutritional advice to help you remain as healthy as possible. What you eat and drink is very important to your overall health and healing. You may meet with them during clinic visits or when in the hospital.
Transplant Social Workers
You will meet one of our Social Workers during the evaluation process. They can assist you with any non-medical issues before and after your transplant and help you and your family understand and cope with the variety of stresses and other problems you may experience during your illness. They can also give you important information regarding Medicaid, Medicare and other insurance questions.
Transplant Financial Coordinators
The Financial Coordinator has detailed knowledge about financial matters, insurance and hospital billing. This coordinator will work with you and the other team members to coordinate the financial aspects of your care before, during, and after your transplant and help you work out the best way to pay for your transplant. Our Financial Coordinators will also help you obtain preauthorization for your evaluation exams, kidney transplant surgery, and follow-up care. They can also answer any questions you may have regarding your healthcare coverage.
The Transplant Pharmacists specialize in providing you with education about the medications that you will need after your transplant. They are available to answer questions about your medications. Our on-site pharmacy carries the transplant medications that you will need, and if you live at a distance from Crozer-Keystone, they can coordinate your medication needs with a pharmacy close to home.
Your Primary Care Physician (PCP) or Primary Nephrologist
In most cases, you will continue care under your personal doctors before and after your kidney transplant. Your primary doctors are a very important part of your healthcare team and should be your point of care for any non-transplant related health issues, such as arthritis, back problems, diabetes, and the common cold. After your transplant medications have been adjusted, your primary doctor will manage your non-transplant related healthcare. Your Primary Care Physician or Primary Nephrologist can also coordinate medical care with your transplant team, especially if you have to travel a long distance to have your transplant. And of course, the Crozer-Keystone Kidney Transplant Team will be available if you or your doctors have any questions regarding your health.
The Psychiatrist will meet with you and your family to examine and assess neuro-psychological function and to provide emotional support during this challenging time.
Family and Friends
Transplantation is not something you want to tackle alone. In fact, it’s very unilikely that anyone can go through this process alone. Every patient will come to a point where he or she needs help and encouragement to make the journey. The Kidney Transplant Team recognizes that a strong support team produces the best outcome. We therefore want to make sure that you have a support system in place. This means that you have family or friends that are willing and available to drive you to and from your appointments and take care of you before and after your transplant. It’s a big job, but it’s just so important.
You are the most important part of this process. The success of your transplant is directly related to your compliance with the medications, clinic visits, and adherence to the rules set up by your colleagues on the Kidney Transplant Team. You must maintain a nutritious diet and keep a routine exercise program tailored to your physical abilities. Receiving a kidney transplant is a lifetime commitment.
Meet the members of the Kidney Transplant Team at Crozer-Keystone.