The Transplant Institute of Florida at Largo Medical Center
Our team at The Transplant Institute of Florida at Largo Medical Center know the prospect of an organ transplant can be filled with stress, fear and uncertainty. That's why our transplant specialists provide patients with all the details needed to make informed decisions.
At all stages of the transplant process, you and your family are an integral part of the decision-making process about your care.
To learn more about The Transplant Institute of Florida, please call (727) 588-5728.
TIF opened in spring 2015 as the first transplant program in Pinellas County, Florida. Since then, our program has helped raise local awareness of organ donation in hopes to better serve our community.
With TIF, the time transplant candidates spend waiting on donated organs is shorter. Additionally, transplant candidates in the Pinellas County area now have shorter travel times to get their needed organs.
Our transplant services program
We are one of eight hospitals in Florida approved through the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) to provide kidney transplant services and to perform liver transplant services. Ours is the first hospital in Florida to perform robotic nephrectomies, surgical removal of a kidney, for living organ donors.
TIF can accept any transplant candidate's transfer while keeping their same placement on the waiting list for organs.
Dedicated transplant unit
To enhance our patient-focused care, we offer a dedicated transplant unit. Our expert staff has been trained specifically i post-transplant treatment and recovery guidance.
How to become an organ donor
Organ donation does not need to be reserved after one's life has ended. Individuals can help give the gift of life with organ donation by becoming living donors.
We are committed to helping more people learn how to become organ donors and adding more donors throughout the state. We earned national recognition with the Platinum Award from the Workplace Partnership for Life (WPFL) Hospital Organ Donation Campaign.
WPFL is a joint public awareness effort of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the organ donation community and workplaces across the countries.
Anyone can make a decision to become a registered organ and tissue donor when obtaining a driver's license or by going to www.DonateLifeFlorida.org.
Qualifying for transplant surgery
Before setting out on your transplant journey, you'll undergo an evaluation to determine if you are an eligible candidate for transplantation. This evaluation covers the physical, biological, psychological and emotional facets of your condition.
Pre-transplant education class
Before evaluation, you'll be invited to attend our pre-transplant education class, where you can ask any questions you have. Attendance of an education session with a family member or friend is mandatory. The class usually includes three to four attendees and lasts about an hour.
This education session is designed to help familiarize you with aspects of transplantation, including:
- How to prepare for evaluation and testing
- Placement on the donated organ waiting list
- Going home and next steps after transplant surgery
Starting the evaluation process
The attendees are then given a lunch break before they visit with a transplant coordinator and a surgeon, hepatologist or nephrologist.
After attending this session and meeting with these members of the transplant team, you will be deemed "active" in the transplant evaluation process.
Meeting the transplant team
Throughout the evaluation process, you will meet with all members of your specific transplant team.
Your transplant coordinator
From here, all other steps in the evaluation process will be outlined and established by your assigned transplant coordinator. They will see you through the entire evaluation process, handling scheduling and logistics. You can count on them to provide any other resources you'll need.
Generally, other members of your transplant team will include:
- Dietitian/nutritionist assesses your overall nutritional status, habits and comprehension. Helps optimize your nutritional status prior to surgery and after transplantation.
- Financial coordinator assesses your insurance coverage and status, potential out-of-pocket expenses and current financial profile. The financial coordinator will submit to your insurance company pre-authorizations needed for transplant evaluation testing and visits for heart transplant surgery.
- Transplant surgeon reviews your clinical condition and all tests performed during your transplant evaluation. The transplant surgeon will assess your fitness and readiness for an operation.
- Transplant doctor optimizes your medical and device-based therapies. The transplant doctor will evaluate all options to determine the best course of treatment for your specific medical condition.
- Pharmacist assesses medication regimen and management, compliance, medication management, comprehension levels and potential medication allergies.
- Social worker assesses your social support, living conditions and financial status. The social worker may also work with you to identify resources for your care, finances and other needs. A plan will be developed to help provide substance abuse counseling, if required.
Tests and evaluations for transplant surgery
After meeting the full transplant team, the transplant coordinator will schedule any blood work or diagnostic tests needed to:
- Confirm your diagnosis
- Assess your ability to undergo the transplantation procedure
- Rule out any possible alternative treatments
These tests will vary depending on the type of transplant procedure you are undergoing and your current and past health conditions.
A transplant anesthesiologist will examine you and discuss with you how sedation will be administered during your transplant surgery. The anesthesiologist will evaluate the results of your previous heart and lung function tests and discuss any possible concerns. You are encouraged to ask questions and become familiar with the sequence of events.
Paying for transplant surgery
Typically, during the same visit the tests are scheduled, you will meet with a financial coordinator. The coordinator will discuss and evaluate the best ways to help cover the overall costs of transplant surgery. They may suggest changes to insurance policies or other avenues to ensure financial coverage.
Activation for transplantation
All the necessary tests, exams and diagnostics will have been performed at this point. Now it's time for the Medical Review Board (MRB) to meet, review your records and determine if you are an eligible candidate for transplant surgery.
The MRB is comprised of members of the transplant team. If you are found eligible for transplant, your name will be placed on the national organ waiting list.
The United Network for Organ Sharing maintains the national list and is directly linked with the local Organ Procurement Agency and transplant center when placing an organ.
Wait times vary for each transplant candidate and are based on a system that takes into account the candidates' medical urgency, blood type, body size and length of time on the waiting list.
Things will happen very quickly once an appropriate donor organ is found. You'll be notified by phone that an organ is on its way to Largo Medical Center. You should plan in advance for transportation to the hospital. If you normally live more than a few hours from the hospital, you may need to temporarily live closer.
Once you've been admitted to the hospital for your transplant, you'll receive your first dose of anti-rejection drugs and antibiotics as your body is prepared to accept the donor organ. Most transplantation is performed under general sedation.
During the transplantation, the diseased or damaged organ is entirely removed and replaced with a donor organ. This procedure typically takes four to eight hours.
After transplant surgery
After surgery, you'll be taken to the Transplant Intensive Care Unit (TICU). You can expect to spend several days in the TICU, where your condition will be closely monitored. When you condition is stable enough, you will be moved to an inpatient room.
What you can expect after surgery:
- You should start to feel better very quickly.
- Your appetite will return.
- Energy levels will rise.
- You'll be closely monitored to ensure proper function of your new organ and to avoid infection.
- You will be subject to daily exams and tests as you recover.
- Visitors must be kept to a minimum during your hospital stay.
The nursing staff will work with you on various exercises and therapies designed to keep your lungs clear and get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.
Your transplant team will develop a plan that will guide you through all aspects of your recovery including:
- Medication schedules
- Exercise regimens
- Dietary restrictions
- Lifestyle modifications
Once you're cleared to leave the hospital, you'll need to live close by for up to three months. You'll continue to be closely monitored by the transplant team to ensure a successful outcome. You can expect to be seen at least twice during the week immediately following discharge from the hospital.
Follow-up care after transplant surgery
The follow-up care after transplant surgery is crucially important to the success of transplantation.
This care consists of various clinic visits, which may be needed three times per week in the weeks following transplant surgery. The number of visits and types of follow-up bloodwork necessary depend on the type of transplant surgery you had.
As part of your follow-up care, our financial coordinators and social workers will review with you the financial plan devised before your transplant surgery. They will provide any additional assistance needed to help you carry out your plan.