Patients who have been told they might need a transplant will first meet with a pre-transplant 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 pre-transplant coordinator is responsible for coordinating your care prior to the transplant, from the time of your initial referral until the time your transplant is received. The evaluation process begins with clinic appointments during which you will meet your multidisciplinary transplant team. Your team will include: your transplant cardiologist, 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.
Your coordinator also will make appointments for the various tests you will need to determine whether you are a good candidate for transplant. Sometimes these tests can be completed in one day, but that will depend on the health of the patient. Our coordinators always cater to the needs of our patients. If completing the whole list of tests in one day would be too overwhelming, then the exams are scheduled over several days and at the most convenient time that we can accommodate.
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.
Then finally the day arrives with the good news. A match has been found. Your nurse coordinator will make the arrangements for your admission and surgery.