Organ Transplants: What to Expect
The first step to entering University of Maryland's Transplant Program is a thorough evaluation and examination by our transplant specialists.
If the UMMC team thinks that you are a candidate for a transplant, you will be placed on the national organ transplant waiting list.
As part of the evaluation, we will:
- Perform a thorough physical examination
- Study your medical records
- Check if your other organs are strong enough for surgery
- Describe the transplant in detail
- Explain what happens after transplant, including the medications you will need to take
- Ask about your insurance, finances and who will help care for you after surgery
Scheduling an Evaluation
Our nurse coordinator will assist you in scheduling all of the necessary appointments. We tailor our transplant evaluation process to your situation and schedule:
- Many patients complete most of the evaluation process in one day at our Baltimore location.
- Out-of-town patients may meet with our transplant team via an eVisit and can complete most evaluation testing in their home community.
- Our transplant clinic locations throughout Maryland and in neighboring states make it possible for patients in those areas to meet with our physicians without traveling to Baltimore.
To begin the evaluation process call 1-800-492-5538.
Before the Evaluation
- Fill out the transplant questionnaire and bring it to your evaluation.
- Have your referring physician send your medical records to UMMC before your appointment. (If this is not possible, you should bring your medical records to the evaluation appointment.)
During the Evaluation
We encourage your support person or caregiver and potential living organ donor to attend the initial evaluation with you. The evaluation lasts about 4 hours and includes:
- A medical history
- A physical exam
- An education session
During the education session, we cover every aspect of transplantation, so you can decide if transplant surgery is the right path for you.
A specially trained transplant nurse will also meet with you to discuss:
- Transplant process - The entire transplant process from the moment a patient enters the program through surgery, discharge planning and outpatient follow-up
- Waiting list - The waiting period and the national waiting list, which determines when a patient receives organs
- Results - Your expected results following surgery
- Post-transplant - What you need to know about taking responsibility for your ongoing well-being after transplant
What Happens Next
Once accepted into the program, patients usually do not return to the hospital until the actual transplantation surgery. Any tests can be scheduled by the patient's primary doctor or, in the case of kidney transplants, through the candidate's dialysis facility. The transplant coordinator will assist with this.
The Waiting List
After a person is accepted, they are placed on that national organ transplant waiting list. The time on the waiting list varies greatly based on the organ involved and other factors.
Because there are many emotional issues for potential transplant recipients and their families, UMMC has an active patient educational series open to anyone on the waiting list and all patients who have already received transplants. It meets in person each month. All issues related to transplant can be discussed in this trusting, caring atmosphere.
In the case of kidney and liver patients, the identification of possible living donors is an important part of the pre-transplant screening process. We encourage family members, spouses and friends to consider making this most precious gift.
The transplant coordinator can answer specific questions about living donations.
When an Organ Becomes Available
Donated organs must be transplanted within a very short time. Patients are notified as soon as an organ is available to allow them sufficient time to travel to the UMMC.
Transplant patients go to the main admitting office at the Greene Street entrance. Patients are greeted and directed to the right unit. On the unit, a history is taken of any medical events which may have occurred since the initial transplant evaluation. Blood tests are also done to ensure the patient's readiness for surgery.
Your Hospital Stay
Patients are asked to bring only basic necessities to the hospital when they are admitted for the transplant surgery. After surgery when the patient is recuperating, the family may bring comfortable clothing -- pajamas or sweat suits.
The transplant surgery itself is performed in one of the hospital's main operating rooms. The length of time for each procedure depends on a number of factors, including the patient's condition and the organ which is being transplanted.
Following surgery, patients are taken to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit or the transplant unit. They are closely monitored to ensure that their bodies are accepting the new organ and that they are experiencing no ill effects of the immunosuppressive medications.
How long the patient stays in the hospital ranges from three to 14 days, depending on the patient's general health before surgery, the type of transplant and other factors.
Read more about life after transplant surgery.