For more than 20 years, we have worked with patients undergoing intestinal rehabilitation and care, as well as those receiving transplants. We have significant expertise and understanding of the challenges involved and can help you and your family.
Our team is dedicated to offering personalized attention to both our patients and their families, throughout treatment and beyond. Read more about our approach to care.
UCLA and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)
To learn more about intestinal transplant lists and the intestinal transplant match process, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) provides a toll-free patient services line to:
- Help transplant candidates, recipients and family members understand organ allocation practices and transplantation data
- Discuss problems you may experience with your transplant center or the transplantation system in general
The toll-free number is (888) 894-6361.
What to Know About Intestinal Transplant Evaluation
Intestinal transplant is one of the most complex transplant procedures, particularly when multi-organ transplant is required. Patients become eligible for transplant when:
- They have intestinal failure and we do not expect that their remaining intestine will adapt.
- They have developed one or more life-threatening complications related to total parenteral nutrition (TPN).
Patients at that level of intestinal failure undergo a transplant evaluation before we can place them on a waiting list. The evaluation includes:
- Assessing the degree of intestinal failure and liver disease
- Completely evaluating the potential for bowel adaptation as well as the current nutritional status
- Analyzing the TPN formulation and feeding regimen in detail
- Completing imaging of the abdomen and vascular access sites
- Arranging educational sessions with the patient and family to review aspects of the patient's medical condition
- Assessing psychological and social issues involved in organ transplantation, such as stress, financial issues, and family or other support
- Running blood and diagnostic tests to assess overall health status and improve the chances of a good match
- Giving immunizations and making other preparations to reduce the chance of infection
The evaluation process takes place either in the hospital over three to five days, or during outpatient visits spread over several weeks. The process involves surgeons, a gastroenterologist, a hepatologist, a nutritionist, TPN specialists and transplant nurse coordinators, as well as many others.
You will work with the same transplant coordinator throughout your care, from the beginning of the evaluation and wait list process to the transplant surgery and care afterward. Our team will know your name and understand your situation very well.
What to Do While Waiting for Your Intestinal Transplant
After your acceptance as a transplant candidate, your name will go on the United Network for Organ Sharing list to await an available donor organ. Please remember that:
- During this waiting time, physicians will guide you in how to maximize your health so you are in the best condition possible for a transplant.
- Donor organs are assigned to recipients based on several characteristics, including blood type and the severity of the condition.
- It is important to remain available at the contact information you have provided so we can notify you immediately when a donor intestine is available.
- Your physicians will advise you on how to prepare for the transplant.
What to Expect During and After Transplant
Intestinal transplant is a complex procedure. UCLA's experienced teams work very closely with you and your family throughout the process:
- The intestinal transplant surgery lasts at least six hours and up to 12.
- Patients usually recover in the intensive care unit for three days to four weeks afterward. They may require support on a breathing machine (ventilator) during this time.
- Patients remain in the hospital for four weeks to three months, depending on a number of factors.
- After the transplant, we will take biopsies of the transplanted intestine at regular intervals. Using a specialized formula, we will begin feeding nutrients into the new intestine. Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) will be weaned off as the intestine recovers function.
- We support patients after transplant, including plans for care at home, transportation to checkups and education about after-transplant care such as medications, clinic visits and daily activities.
- Pediatric intestinal transplant patients, in particular, may require support with learning to eat, social needs, etc. Our team of social workers and specialists in the transition to adult care work closely with your family to answer these needs.
- We provide all rehabilitation and education in our UCLA facilities, and discharge patients only when teaching is complete and they feel comfortable.
Patients initially stay in the Los Angeles area until they are stable to return to their homes. If you require local housing in the area during the time of transplant, your UCLA transplant coordinator and support team can help.
Learn more about lodging and nearby services, including the UCLA Tiverton House.
Ongoing Connection to UCLA's Transplant Program
Patients often continue to receive follow-up care and monitoring from our physicians for years to come. Long after your procedure is complete, you remain a member of the UCLA transplant family.
In addition to ongoing medical care from our dedicated transplant team, we offer support groups for transplant recipients and their families. Find more information on support groups.
Intestinal Transplant Links
What is the Intestine: Introduction to Intestinal Transplantation (pdf)
Intestinal Teaching Handbook (pdf)