When an organ is compromised by trauma or begins to fail, a transplant may be the most suitable treatment. Transplants involve removing a healthy organ from a donor to replace a diseased organ in a recipient, or include transplanting blood or bone marrow.
Transplant surgery in Florida
A transplant is a lifesaving gift that keeps on giving. It can provide renewed hope and a healthy life for those in need.
However, it is also a complex process that requires highly trained individuals to ensure success. At HCA Florida Physicians — a network of physician practices across the state — we provide access to specially trained transplant doctors, ready and waiting to walk this journey with you.
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Types of transplant surgeries we offer
A transplant is a surgery in which an organ that is no longer functioning properly is replaced with a new, healthy organ. They are used to treat conditions that cause an organ to stop functioning and are usually considered an option for treatment when it is highly likely that the organ will not be able to regain function.
The heart works continuously to bring oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. This means if the heart begins to lose function, so do other parts of the body, causing a range of problems.
If the heart is in a steady state of decline, a heart transplant may be an option for treatment. Patients can only receive a heart transplant from a deceased donor.
Some causes of heart failure include:
- Heart attack
- Heart defects present at birth
- Heart valve disease
- Viral infection of the heart muscle
The kidneys are part of the body's filtration system, helping to rid the body of waste and toxins. So, when the kidneys stop functioning properly, those toxins begin to build up within the body.
If both kidneys lose function completely, a kidney transplant may be an option for treatment. Patients can receive a kidney transplant from either a living or deceased donor, as individuals can live with only one kidney.
Kidney damage can occur due to:
- Acute renal failure
- Certain autoimmune diseases
- Certain infections
- Polycystic kidney disease
The liver is one of the body's largest organs and has many important functions, from regulating metabolism to detoxifying the body of harmful substances. This means when the liver begins to lose function, it has a large impact on the rest of the body.
Fortunately, the liver can function fairly well with damage and is also the only organ that has regenerative capabilities — meaning over time, it can actually repair itself and even regrow tissue.
When the liver becomes so damaged it can no longer function, a liver transplant is considered.
Liver damage can occur due to:
- Alcohol liver disease
- Autoimmune liver disease
- Liver cancer
- Hereditary and metabolic liver disease
- Liver failure conditions
- Pancreatic cancer
- Vascular liver disease
- Viral liver disease
The lungs allow us to breathe and take in oxygen from the air, which is necessary to function. This means that when our lungs begin to lose function, it can have an impact on many other parts of the body.
Because we have a set of lungs, they can often function with some level of damage. However, when that damage becomes too great, a lung transplant may be an option. Patients often receive a new lung from a deceased donor. However, in some cases, patients can receive a partial transplant of a lung lobe from a living donor.
Lung damage can occur from:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema
- High blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
- Scarring of the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis)
Understanding the transplant process
After it has been confirmed that a transplant is necessary, you can begin the process of requesting transplant surgery. Because a transplant is a complex procedure, the transplant process is very detailed and thorough to ensure the best possible chances for success.
If you are approved for a transplant, your doctor will work closely with you from evaluation to post-transplant recovery.
Initial transplant evaluation
The first step in the transplant process is to undergo a thorough evaluation. During the evaluation, your doctors will review your medical history and will likely ask you questions about your life and health.
The goal of this evaluation is to get to know you as a person and understand everything they can about your personal condition and any other related health conditions.
Your doctor will collect information about your:
- Condition and the health of the affected organ
- Overall physical health
- Mental health
- Any additional information that may be relevant to your treatment
Once your doctor and their colleagues have met and reviewed all of your information, they will make a recommendation on whether or not you are eligible for a transplant.
At this time, your transplant doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of the transplant surgery you require. They are available to answer any questions you may have.
Finding a donor match
The next step in the transplant process is to find a donor who has an organ that is compatible with your body. This is something your transplant team will discuss with you in full detail.
There are two types of donors: deceased donors and living donors.
Deceased donor transplant
A deceased donor transplant is often the most common type of organ donation. The donation of a deceased individual's healthy organ(s) provides recipients the opportunities to continue living long and full lives.
However, due to the demand of organ transplants, patients who are going to receive an organ donation from a deceased donor are placed on a transplant waiting list for an appropriate match. The wait on this list can vary depending on your individual needs.
Living donor transplant
In certain cases, it is possible to receive an organ from a living donor. When this option is a possibility, it is usually preferable to a deceased donor transplant, as living donor organs can function longer in the body and can also provide better patient survival rates.
Living donor transplants are more likely with kidney transplants, as donors can function with only one kidney. Partial liver donations from a living donor are also possible on some occasions.
The transplant surgery itself will look different for each patient, depending on what type of transplant they are receiving. However, in general, the procedure involves replacing your diseased organ with the donated organ and usually lasts anywhere between two and 12 hours.
Life after transplant surgery
Directly after your transplant surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room where you still stay until you are healthy enough to return home. During this time, your doctors will create and discuss your individualized postoperative care plan, which may include lifestyle changes to prevent any damage to the new organ.
Additionally, you will continue to meet with your transplant surgeon regularly after the surgery to ensure your body is accepting the transplant and functioning as it should.
Our transplant specialists
When it comes to the transplant process, it takes a highly trained and specialized physician to make everything come together. At HCA Florida Physicians, we've got just the right people.
Our doctors understand all of the moving pieces that go into making a transplant happen, from patient evaluation and donor matching to surgery day and life after transplant.
Team approach to a transplant
Because the transplant process is so complex, your doctor will likely collaborate with other specialists in the HCA Florida Healthcare network along the way.
Your transplant team may differ depending on the type of transplant you are receiving. However, because the transplant relies on many parts of the body learning to re-work together after the transplant is complete, your transplant team will likely include a mix of specialists, such as:
- Clinical coordinators
- Social workers
- Transplant surgeons