Patients who have been told they might need a transplant will first meet with a nurse coordinator. These staff members are all registered nurses who have an interest and extensive experience in the care of patients with chronic illnesses and transplants.
Your coordinator is responsible for arranging all the tests necessary to determine whether you would be a good candidate for a transplant. They will coordinate your care from your initial visit and for the follow-up appointments after your operation and recovery. Our coordinators are known for their responsiveness and will help you with any transplant-related issue for years to come.
You will meet with your multidisciplinary transplant team during the evaluation process. Your team will include: your transplant nephrologist, surgeon, nurse coordinator, nurse practitioners, procurement nurses, chaplains, physical therapists, dietitians, financial coordinators, clinical pharmacists, social workers, psychologists and transplant chaplains. Your coordinator will provide education that covers the process of transplantation, psychosocial and financial issues, the risks and benefits of transplantation and medication issues. The nurse coordinator will want to make sure you understand all of the material and will encourage you to ask questions so that you understand it.
When all the tests are completed, the team meets again to determine if transplantation is the best option for you. Medical, psychosocial and financial workups will be reviewed at that time. If the team approves eligibility, your name will be put on the waiting list.
After you have been listed, you will be asked to keep in contact with the transplant team and provide periodic updates on your health and insurance status. You will be sent education materials as well as a questionnaire that needs to be updated annually. While waiting for a transplant, you should carefully follow the health maintenance schedule designed specifically for you. If anything changes with your situation – health, insurance, residence, availability, phone numbers, vacations – you must notify your coordinator. The coordinator will maintain contact with you and your physicians during the waiting period so that your tests and records are current.
After a match has been found, your nurse coordinator will make arrangements for your admission and surgery.
After the operation, your coordinator will help you with discharge planning and provide extensive education on transplant medication, physical activity, diet restrictions and required follow-up care. Your coordinator also will schedule follow-up lab and doctors’ appointments and, if need be, help you submit disability papers. You will be followed quite closely during the first year after your transplant, which will include frequent lab and clinic visits. One thing that your coordinator will stress is the importance of taking all your anti-rejection medications every day, preferably at the same time each day.
Nurse practitioners will also be part of your care team. They work collaboratively with physicians and other members of your medical team to provide you with exceptional care, starting with your transplant evaluation and testing all the way through post-transplant management.
Nurse practitioners will also care for you while you are in the hospital or at a doctor’s visit. They prescribe medications, diagnose patients and work with physicians to develop treatment plans. They are also experts in patient education before and after transplantation. Nurse practitioners are adept at recognizing and understanding the signs of rejection and infection. They will instruct patients about the importance of timely medical treatment and the serious consequences if medical advice isn’t followed or symptoms are ignored. They also work closely with patients to manage any possible transplant-related complications.