Your family doctor or a gastroenterologist can make a referral to the Intestinal Transplant Program. Gastroenterologists are specialists who work with the esophagus, stomach, intestine, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts.
The transplant team will look over the information in your referral. Once they have reviewed your referral, a member of the team will contact you to talk about what happens next. You will either move on to the assessment phase of the process, or your referral will be declined.
The purpose of the assessment phase is to help the transplant team determine if a transplant is the best option for you. There are 2 parts to the assessment phase: a clinic visit and a full assessment.
The first part of the assessment phase is a clinic visit with one of the transplant program’s surgeons in Edmonton. The surgeon will meet with you and review your previous history and tests. After this review, the transplant team will decide whether or not to arrange a full assessment for you.
If you are approved for a full assessment, you will have to come back to the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton at another time to complete this.
When you return for the full assessment, you will meet with other members of the transplant team including doctors, nurses, social workers, dietitians, psychologists, and administrative staff.
During your full assessment, you will get several tests, including x-rays, ultrasounds, and lab tests. You may also be referred for additional testing or consultations with other healthcare providers.
The timing of your appointments will depend on your current health situation and needs.
When all of your testing has been completed, you and your transplant team will decide on the best course of action for you.
You will need to make an appointment to see your dentist.
This is also a time for you to contact your local public health centre to make sure your immunizations are up-to-date. You should complete all of your immunizations before getting a transplant. Talk to your transplant team for a list of recommended immunizations.
If you smoke or drink alcohol, you will need to stop before you are able to go onto the waitlist for an intestinal transplant. Anyone with a history of drug or alcohol use will need to be assessed by a provincial addictions counselling association. Support is available. Your transplant team can help connect you to counselling and other services. If you do not use the counselling and follow-up services for substance use that the transplant program recommends, you may not be eligible for the waitlist.
Yes. In fact, you
must have a support person throughout your transplant journey. A support person can be anyone you choose. They should be able to help you during all phases of the transplant: assessment, waitlist, transplant, recovery, and follow-up. You could choose someone like your partner, a family member, or a good friend. For a child or teen getting a transplant, the support person is usually a parent, guardian, or grandparent. Choose someone who knows you well and is willing to make the commitment.
Your support person will need to:
After your transplant, you and your support person should plan to stay in Edmonton for 3 to 6 months before going home.
Your transplant team will decide about placing you on the waitlist after they have received and discussed all of your assessment information. Your case will be considered by the entire transplant team. If they feel a transplant is your best treatment option, and you agree, you will be placed on the transplant waitlist.
Learn more about
being on the transplant waitlist (video).
While you are on the waitlist:
There may be times when you are placed on hold while on the waitlist. Your coordinator will talk to you if this needs to happen.
Waiting for a transplant is difficult. Your transplant team is here to support you and work together towards the goal of transplant.
Learn what you need to know about
receiving the call for a transplant (video).
There is a limited amount of time during which the organ or organs can be transplanted. If the transplant team cannot reach you, or if you are not ready, willing, or able to accept the offer, they may offer the organs to the next person on the waitlist.
Health Canada has strict rules around transplant. The transplant team will only offer you a transplant if the available organ or organs are suitable for you.
Once you have accepted the transplant offer:
In rare cases, after you arrive at the hospital, the transplant team might decide that doing the transplant is not safe or not in your best interest. This is called a “dry run.” If this happens, your transplant will be cancelled and you will go back home. You will need to find your own transportation to get home. If the transplant is cancelled due to a problem with the intestine or other organs, you will stay on the waitlist and be offered a transplant again at another time. If the transplant is cancelled due to a safety issue found with you, this may need to be looked at further to make sure that it is safe to put you back on the waitlist.
If you are an adult, you will go to the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton.
If you are a child or teen (under 18 years old), you will go to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.
In both cases, go to the admitting department when you arrive at the hospital, unless the coordinator gives you other instructions.
Before your transplant, your healthcare team will:
When you are taken into the operating room, a specialist called an anesthesiologist will ask you a few questions and then give you medicine to put you to sleep. For children getting a transplant, 1 parent or guardian can stay with the child until this medicine is given.
After you are asleep, the surgery team may insert the following tubes:
During the surgery, you will be given an ileostomy. This is when a loop of bowel comes to the surface on your stomach. You will have to wear a special bag over this area to collect stool. The transplant team also uses this section of your bowel to get the intestinal biopsies they need to look for rejection after your transplant.
Staples will hold your incision (cut) together. As your incision heals, your nurse will remove the staples. The staples will stay in place at least 3 weeks after your transplant. A large bandage called a dressing will cover your incision for a few days. The dressing protects your incision. Your nurses will change it as needed.
Current as of: January 16, 2023
Author: Transplant Services, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.