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Organ Transplant Process

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 118,000 people in the U.S. are waiting to receive a live-saving organ transplant. An organ transplant is the process of removing an organ or tissue from one person and placing it into another person, which may be necessary due to organ failure or damage from disease or injury.

Many diseases can lead to organ failure, including heart disease, diabetes, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis, and cirrhosis. Injury and birth defects could also cause organ failure.

Our transplant team at the SSM Health Transplant Center at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, including specially trained nurses, patient care coordinators and SLUCare physicians, provides medical care for patients with end-stage organ failure requiring liver, kidney, kidney-pancreas, and/or isolated pancreas transplantation.

Organ Transplant Process

If you need an organ transplant, the first step is to get on the national transplant waiting list. Your physician will refer you for an evaluation by the SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital transplant team. If the transplant team determines that you are a good transplant candidate, they will add you to the national waiting list.

When an organ becomes available, your local organ procurement organization will send medical and genetic information to UNOS. UNOS determines potential recipients based on factors such as:

  • Blood type
  • Tissue type
  • Organ size
  • Medical urgency of your illness
  • Time already spent on the waiting list
  • Distance between you and the donor

What to Expect After Your Transplant

After your surgery, your physicians will continue to check up on your health and the health of your transplanted organ. Talk to your transplant team about what ongoing monitoring will be needed, such as lab tests and follow-up appointments.

Rejection of an organ transplant can happen when your body sees the organ or tissue as a foreign invader and attempts to protect itself. Immunosuppressant medications that prevent the body from rejecting the transplanted organ can be essential after surgery. You may be more vulnerable to infections, especially for the first six months after surgery, but you can protect your health by following healthy habits to avoid illness and injury. If you do get sick, it is important to seek treatment sooner rather than later.

Choosing a healthy lifestyle is also important. Eating well, exercising regularly and avoiding smoking are all ways to promote the health of your new organ, as well as the rest of your body. Our transplant team will help customize a plan that best suits your needs.

Getting Started

Needing an organ transplant can be a frightening and often frustrating process, but our compassionate and skilled team is here to be with you every step of the way.

To schedule an appointment, or to learn more information, call us today at (314) 577-8867. If you are interested in evaluation for an organ transplant, we encourage you to download and complete our Transplant Referral Packet and fax it to 314-268-5132 to expedite the process. Our dedicated SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital transplant team will review your packet as soon as possible.

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