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Before and After Your Kidney Transplant Operation at Tampa General Hospital

female physician When you’re on the waiting list for a kidney transplant operation at Tampa General Hospital, it’s vital that you be ready to answer your phone at any time – day or night. A suitable organ can become available at any time, and it must be transplanted as quickly as possible. For that reason, we ask that you supply your transplant donor coordinator with contact information for your family and friends in addition to your own phone number, so we can always reach you. At the time that you receive the phone call, you should begin preparations for your imminent kidney transplant operation.

Our transplant donor coordinator will give you personalized directions, but some of the usual guidelines include cessation of all eating and drinking and potentially halting medications, depending on your specific needs. If you have recently taken insulin when the call comes in, be sure to let the coordinator know. You will also need to pack a bag with all the items that you’ll need before the kidney transplant operation and during your stay at the hospital – such as your fully charged cell phone and your transplant handbook. Once you are packed, have a friend or family member drive you to Tampa General as quickly but safely as possible. When you arrive, you will check in with the admissions department and be shown to your pre-operative room, where you will have your blood tested and otherwise be prepared for your kidney transplant operation. Once you are prepped for the procedure, you will be taken into the operating room, and your family will be guided to the waiting area.

During the surgery, which typically takes three to six hours, your family will be kept informed about your status. After your kidney transplant operation, you will wake up slowly in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). There will be several intravenous lines (IVs) present to help administer fluids, medications, and blood transfusions, as well as to check fluid pressures throughout the body. You will also find that there are tubes in your body, including a urinary tube that empties your bladder, an endotracheal tube that helps you breathe, and a nasogastric tube that keeps your stomach empty. While you recover from your operation, our kidney transplant team will give you medications to manage your pain and keep you relaxed. When you have stabilized and our team has removed your breathing tube, you will be transferred to a private room in the transplant unit. In your private room, you are allowed to have a family member stay overnight with you, provided that there are no medical issues preventing it.

Due to the susceptibility of transplant patients to infection, we cannot allow children under 12 to visit the transplant unit, but a meeting with children in an adjacent unit of the hospital can be arranged as needed. Most kidney transplant patients spend about a week at Tampa General recovering from a kidney transplant operation. During your time at the hospital, you will be monitored for organ rejection and prepared for your life after transplant. You can expect the following:

  • Having daily visits from your surgical staff to have blood tests and complete X-rays performed

  • Attending nutritional classes with your care partner(s) to learn about your new dietary requirements

  • Going to pharmacy education classes with your care partner(s) to learn about the medications that you will need to take for the rest of your life

  • Learning how to record lab values, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure readings in the log book you’ll need to bring to every follow-up appointment

When you are discharged from the hospital following your kidney transplant operation, you will be required to attend a series of appointments where our team will check that your body isn’t rejecting your new kidney.