When your physician refers you to the Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center, the first thing you’ll do is undergo a series of tests to assess your condition and to make sure you’re fit for the surgery. These may include blood and tissue testing (to determine compatibility), heart tests, kidney X-rays, and general health evaluations.
There are more people waiting for pancreas transplants than there are available organs. All patients accepted by a transplant program are put on a national computer wait list kept by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to ensure that all patients in need of a transplant are given fair access to donor organs.
Rules have been made to determine how transplant candidates are ranked on the waiting list for each type of organ. These rules, called allocation policies, were developed by patients and transplant professionals to make sure that every patient on the waiting list has a fair and equal chance at receiving the best organ, at the best time for a particular patient’s condition.
Some of these criteria are medical urgency, tissue typing, waiting time, height and weight of the candidate, and size of the donated organ. The matching system does not take into account gender, religion, celebrity or financial status.
Once you are on the list, the wait for a donor organ will begin. From the time you are placed on the list, you need to be ready to receive a transplant. During the waiting period, we offer education classes on transplant, which you and your caregivers are encouraged to attend.
It is very important that we always have your current address, phone number and insurance information. If you don’t yet have a primary care doctor, this is a good time to get one. Please contact us right away if your condition worsens or if you go to the hospital for any reason.
During the transplant surgery, you will be put under general anesthesia; you will not be awake or feel anything. You will also be placed on a machine to help you breathe. Your anesthesiologist will provide more details before surgery.
Once you are asleep, IV lines and a tube to drain your urine will be put into place. A tube will also be inserted through your nose into your stomach to drain stomach contents and prevent vomiting. The transplant surgeon will make a cut in your lower abdomen where the new pancreas will be placed.
It is normal to have some bleeding after surgery. Special mechanical sleeves will be placed around your legs to keep the blood circulating so that clots can be prevented. You will be in the operating room for about four to six hours.