Pancreas Transplant Patient Guide
After the transplant you will be sent to the recovery room and will be monitored there until the anesthesia wears off. Once the breathing tube is removed, you will be transferred to the ICU for several days, where the transplant team will monitor your status very carefully. During your stay on this unit, your laboratory studies, medications, nutritional status and exercise tolerance will be monitored.
After you have stabilized, you will then be transferred to the MedSurg floor where you will stay another few days. As soon as you are able, discharge instructions will begin to prepare you for going home. The entire length of stay in the hospital is approximately 7-10 days.
Potential complications of the transplant procedure include bleeding and infection, and as with any transplant, poor healing of the suture line between the bladder and the duodenum. An infrequent complication involves thrombosis (clotting) of the blood vessels of the pancreas. To minimize this risk, the patient may be given low doses of a blood thinning medication after the transplant.
You will be discharged as soon as the transplant team feels that it is safe for you. This decision is based on how you have recovered since surgery.
We want you to feel comfortable living with your new organ and taking care of yourself. Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have while you are still in the hospital or during your clinic visits. If there are additional things that worry you and we have not covered them here, please ask us about them.
The transplant coordinators are eager to help you and to answer any questions you may have. The social worker will be meeting with you and your family throughout your hospitalization period. She is available to help you with any social problems that may arise.
If you wish, we can arrange for you to meet and talk with some of the patients who have already received their transplant. They may be able to give you helpful insights on what you may expect living with a transplant.
Summary - key points to remember:
- Take the exact amount of medications as ordered at the prescribed time.
- Log the dose on the medication flow sheet.
- Monitor for signs and symptoms of rejection/infection.
- Adhere to your clinic schedule.
- Report any complaints you may have.
- Inform all other health care providers that you're a transplant recipient.
After Transplant Clinic Visits
Upon leaving the hospital, you will receive a schedule of follow-up clinic visits for lab tests and checkups. The purpose is to track your progress and detect potential complications as early as possible.
On days when you are scheduled for follow-up visits, you should bring your medication list, medications in their original containers, and your transplant handbook. You will be given specific instructions for routine lab work or special tests that you might need.
Perioperative Outpatient Follow-Up Schedule
- First 2 weeks: Twice a week
- Weeks 3-4: Once a week
- Weeks 5-8 (month 2): Every other week
- Months 3-12: Once a month
- After 12 months (1 year): Every 3 months and as needed
Home monitoring helps prevent problems and complications. Your daily journal entry should include the following (you will start this in the hospital after surgery):
- Weight in the morning after urinating and before eating breakfast.
- Blood pressure and pulse. Make sure you can feel your pulse on your wrist or neck to become familiar with its regular rhythm and pace.
- Temperature (or whenever you feel feverish). Do not have anything to eat or drink 10 minutes before taking your temperature or you may cause a false reading.
Your journal should be brought to each clinic visit. Additional information you will want to keep in your notebook:
- Immunosuppressant medication levels
- Creatinine levels
- White blood cell (WBC) levels
- Medications you are currently taking
Also, it may be helpful to write down questions, concerns, or comments you want to share during your visits. It is a good idea to bring your blood pressure cuff to clinic occasionally (every 3-6 months) to check against the clinic blood pressure cuff (to make sure it is accurate).
After you have a transplant, you may have to remain close to the transplant clinic for a few months because of your medical care needs. Although complications can occur at any time, the first three months following transplantation are the most crucial. At USC, patients are seen weekly in the transplant clinic for the first month after discharge. Because of this need for frequent monitoring, some patients who live more than 75 miles from the hospital may have to take up temporary residence in the area. Your social worker may be able to assist you in finding a place to live. If you are accepted to the program, please discuss your housing needs with the social worker as early as possible.