What should I do while waiting for a pancreas transplantation?

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Candidates for organ transplantation must maintain close communication and regular checkups with the transplant team. It is important to remain as healthy and strong as possible, so that when a donor organ becomes available, the patient will be in the best possible physical condition to undergo surgery. Good health not only makes it more likely that transplant surgery can proceed, but it helps patients recover better and faster after the surgery. Patients should keep the transplant team's phone numbers accessible at all times, and should contact the team if any new or significant health issues develop. Each patient is assigned to a Transplant Coordinator who will be their primary contact while waiting for their pancreas transplant.

During the waiting period before transplantation, patients on the wait list must carry a beeper or cell phone so that hospital personnel can immediately reach them when a donor organ becomes available. When a donor pancreas becomes available, the hospital must respond to the offer very quickly; if a patient is unavailable or unable to have the transplant (due to infection, for instance), then the organ may be offered to the next person on the wait list. A transportation plan should be arranged so that the patient has a way to quickly and easily travel to the hospital as soon as they receive the call that an organ is available.

While waiting for surgery, patients should learn what to expect during their recovery, and about the medications they will need to take after surgery. They should plan ahead by preparing an advance directive, a document which allows patients to designate who will make health-care decisions for them in the event that they are unable to communicate for themselves, and to stipulate their wishes regarding the use of procedures or treatments such as life-sustaining therapies.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.