Although your transplantation experience may vary, Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) Transplantation Surgery patients typically follow these steps when receiving care from our team.
- Referral to D-H Transplantation Surgery
- Orientation and medical evaluation
- Listing for transplant
- Staying healthy
- Identifying donor
- Your hospital stay after surgery
- Post-transplant care
- Follow-up visits with our care team
The first step in kidney transplantation is to determine if a transplant is right for you. A health care provider, typically your nephrologist, will help you make this decision based on your health and other factors.
If a transplant could work for you, your provider may refer you to see a member of the D-H Transplantation Surgery team. Referral information is on our Appointments and Referrals page.
Once you are referred to D-H Transplantation Surgery, you will need to attend one of our regular orientation and evaluation sessions for new patients. At this session, you will learn about the transplantation process, and you will also participate in an initial medical exam. Our initial medical exams help our team know if you are medically ready for transplantation surgery.
You can attend one of our evaluation sessions whether or not you are a transplant candidate. Each class, presented by members of our team and about an hour and a half in length, provides valuable information about the many aspects of transplantation.
Please contact our office for more information and scheduled class times.
Everyone seeking a kidney transplant participates in a thorough evaluation to determine if they are a good candidate for a transplant. This evaluation helps us decide if you can be placed on the list for transplantation surgery. Evaluation day lasts about five hours, including the education class, and includes:
- Medical clearance. We want to make sure you do not have additional medical problems that would make transplantation unsafe.
- Surgical clearance
- Nutrition evaluation
- Social work evaluation
- Financial counseling: How much will this cost?
- Medication review by a transplant pharmacist
- Meeting with the pre-transplant coordinator
After you attend orientation and finish your medical exam, our team will ask your primary care provider to schedule additional medical tests to make sure transplantation is safe for you.
Once all testing is completed, and you are confirmed as a transplantation candidate, our team will add your name to the list of patients ready for a kidney transplant.
It is very important that you stay healthy while our team works to identify your kidney donor. Our expert caregivers can offer healthy-living advice, and will work with you to monitor your health throughout your time as a transplantation candidate.
Healthy kidneys can be donated from two sources:
- Kidneys given by living donors—relatives or not—provide the longest life for the patient and kidney.
- If a living kidney donor is not available, our team will add your name to a waiting list for a kidney given by a deceased (cadaveric) donor.
If you are receiving a kidney given by a deceased donor, a member of our team will call you to schedule your surgery once a kidney is available. If you are receiving a kidney from a living donor we will coordinate surgery with the donor.
On the day of your surgery, in our same day surgery center, you will first come to the hospital where our team will help you prepare. You will be given anti-rejection medications right before surgery, then you will be taken to the operating room.
You will be in the hospital for a minimum of three days. Your stay may be longer if a problem occurs and further treatment is needed.
Learn about the length, procedures of and what to expect during a typical kidney transplant surgery in our Dartmouth-Hitchcock Healthwise® Health Encyclopedia.
You will need to stay in the hospital after your transplantation surgery is complete. The average post-transplant hospital stay is five days.
After a kidney transplant, you should be able to return to work and eat a regular diet. You can typically resume normal activities, though you need to take some extra precautions. Read the After a Kidney Transplant page for more information about post-surgery care.
After your hospital stay, you will need to attend regular follow-up appointments with your D-H Transplantation Surgery providers. Normally, your first appointment is three days after leaving the hospital, and subsequent appointments are scheduled over the next six months.
After six months, you may return to your regular nephrologist or endocrinologist for care. The D-H Transplantation Surgery team will schedule follow-up appointments with you once a year.