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Living Donation

Who's an Intestinal Transplant Candidate?

Intestinal transplant is a rare surgery that allows people with intestinal failure to regain the ability to eat regular food and live a more normal life.

The procedure has been making rapid advances over the past decade, and UPMC has one of the world's leading centers for intestinal transplant and rehabilitation.

We will evaluate anyone who comes to our center to see if they may be an intestinal transplant candidate.

Most people who receive this transplant have short gut syndrome or have had benign or malignant tumors.

What is Short Gut Syndrome?

Short gut syndrome — also called short bowel syndrome — is a condition where part of the small intestine is missing. This causes the body to not absorb nutrients.

People with short gut syndrome often have diarrhea or trouble passing food through the digestive tract. Eventually, they are no longer able to eat solid food and end up on total parenteral nutrition (TPN).

TPN requires long spells at home or in the hospital attached to an IV line.

Complications of TPN can include infection, clots, or liver cirrhosis. In these cases, an intestinal transplant may be the best treatment.

Health problems that can lead to short gut syndrome or intestinal failure include:

  • Crohn's disease
  • Vascular occlusion
  • Abdominal trauma
  • Bowel obstruction syndrome
  • Motility problems
  • Desmoid or neuroendocrine tumors
  • Other gut disorders combined with organ failure

Intestinal Transplant Criteria

Intestinal transplant is a life-saving procedure for people who no longer tolerate TPN.

Surgeons at UPMC are pioneers in the field of solid-organ transplants. We routinely accept some of the most complex cases.

When possible, we will work with you to find a medical solution before recommending you as an intestinal transplant candidate. Intestinal rehabilitation cures about 70 percent of people referred to us.

Intestinal transplant has survival outcomes similar to other organ transplants, but it does carry a higher risk of infection and rejection.

People who are not eligible for intestinal transplant include those with:

  • Heart or lung disease who likely can't endure surgery.
  • Active infections.

Regardless of your prognosis or the severity of your disease, you will receive superb care at the UPMC Intestinal Rehabilitation and Transplantation Center.


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