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After Intestinal Transplant Surgery

Intestinal Transplant Recovery Time

Right after intestinal transplant surgery, you will need to take care of your incision (cut) site to avoid infection.

The end goal after intestinal transplant is to eat real food. Most people achieve long-term gastrointestinal rehabilitation.

Follow-up Appointments After Intestinal Transplant

The follow-up after intestinal transplant takes a long time. You need to stay close to UPMC for 3 to 6 months after surgery.

If you don't live near Pittsburgh, you and your caregiver can stay at Family House until you're ready to return home.

After intestinal transplant, you will need to come to the outpatient clinic nearly every day for the first few weeks.

During these visits, we will perform lab work and biopsies. These tests look for infection or rejection.

We'll also make sure you're able to eat and drink.

Once you're stronger, these visits will drop back to 3 times a week and then twice a week.

Recovery time after intestinal transplant varies widely for each person.

Some people can return home and reduce the frequency of follow-up visits within 3 months after transplant surgery. Others may take longer to recover.

Preventing Intestinal Transplant Rejection and Infection 

Intestinal Transplant rejection is the main concern.

The UPMC team has great results with intestinal transplant, but the risk for rejection is higher than with other organ transplants.

You will need to take anti-rejection medicines for the rest of your life.

You may also have prescriptions to:

  • Manage pain.
  • Prevent infection.
  • Treat any other health issues you may have.

Call your transplant coordinator or pharmacist if you have any questions about your medicines.

Being on anti-rejection medicines means your immune system is not working at full steam. This opens you up to the risk of getting infections.

Make sure that you follow good hygiene for preventing infection and ask that any visitors do so as well.

Tips to Prevent Intestinal Transplant Infection

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowded places during peak times for illness, such as flu season.
  • Ask loved ones and friends to avoid visiting when they are sick.

Have Help from a Caregiver

You will not be able to drive for 6 weeks after intestinal transplant surgery.

You will need to have a caregiver with you for the first few months to help you with your daily routine and recovery.

Your caregiver will need to:

  • Help you get in and out of bed, bathe, and get dressed.
  • Make sure you take your medicines on time.
  • Drive you to and from appointments.
  • Refill prescriptions, grocery shop, and other errands.
  • Help you keep track of information to provide to the intestinal transplant team.
  • Watch for any odd behavior and contact the transplant team with concerns.

Life After Intestinal Transplant

Most people feel their quality of life has greatly improved after intestinal transplant. They no longer need TPN and have the freedom to eat real food again.

Although you can eat what you like after your intestinal transplant, some foods can interfere with the medicines you're taking. The medications can affect your potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium levels.

You'll need to be cautious about eating certain foods high in these nutrients to keep your levels in a healthy range.

Your nutritionist will work with you before you leave the hospital and at follow-up visits to create an eating plan based on your recovery and specific medicines.

The intestinal transplant team at UPMC is committed to being with you for the rest of your life. We're here to answer your questions or provide care any time you need it.