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Recovery and rehabilitation should be your main concerns after your transplant. Your transplant team, including surgeons, specialists, nurses, dieticians, and social workers will follow you throughout your recovery. Each patient’s path to recovery is different, and it can be months before a patient is fully healed from the surgery.
After your surgery, you’ll spend several days in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU). You will have many monitors attached to you to keep track of your condition:
- Nasogastric Tube (NG Tube) – This tube is placed through your nose and down into your stomach to keep your stomach clear. It will be removed when your bowel function returns and you are able to eat. It may make your nose and throat sore.
- Endotracheal Tube (breathing tube) – This tube will remain in place until you are awake enough to breathe on your own. It is usually in place for one to two days after surgery. While this is in, you will not be able to talk. Your family may want to bring pen and paper so that you can express yourself. You may also want to establish simple movements, such as blinking, for yes or no questions.
- Urinary Catheter (Foley) – This tube helps empty your bladder. It is removed once you are more awake.
- Central IV Lines – These lines help provide fluids, nutrition and medication. They are removed when you can eat and drink.
You and your caregiver will be instructed in how to manage your care during your recovery period. This includes medication information and daily living instructions.
After your transplant, you will have regular appointments in an outpatient clinic. As you improve, these appointments will be less frequent. Arrangements for blood tests and medication management can be made through your primary care provider, or through your local Johns Hopkins Community Physician.
The United Network for Organ Sharing requires that hospitals follow-up with patients for at least two years after a transplant. Often, the relationships developed between our physicians and patients last decades longer.