In the weeks before your transplant, you will meet with your doctor, and often other members of the transplant team. During this time your doctor will assess your overall health and your disease. You may have tests done to make sure your disease is under control. Your doctor will also ask you questions about your current health. With a good understanding of your past and current health and your disease status, your doctor can make sure that transplant is the best treatment for you and is as safe as possible. Your doctor will also be better prepared to treat or prevent complications.
Physical exam and tests
You will have a physical exam before beginning the transplant process. Your doctor will ask that you have tests done to see how other organs and body systems are working.
Physical exams and tests before transplant depend on your diagnosis and health history, and may vary from hospital to hospital. Ask your doctor about any procedure you don’t understand and make sure you are comfortable with your treatment plan.
Some of the tests may include:
- Heart testing (Echocardiogram (ECHO), MUGA scan, or electrocardiogram (EKG))
- Blood tests
- Pulmonary (lung) function tests (PFTs)
- Bone marrow biopsy
- PET scan (Positron emission tomography)
- Lumbar puncture or spinal tap
Approved for a transplant
After your tests and physical exam are done, and you and your transplant doctor agree to go ahead with transplant, it’s time to prepare for your transplant. Your transplant team will decide on your pre-transplant treatment, or preparative regimen, based on your unique situation. Your transplant team will guide you through the transplant process, and be there to take care of you each step of the way.
During the course of your transplant, you will need frequent blood draws, blood transfusions and intravenous medications. A central venous catheter, more commonly known as a central line, will be inserted prior to transplant to ease this process. The central line will decrease the number of needle sticks that you need and allow you to receive all the medications you will need by vein.
Before you begin your preparative regimen, you will meet the members of your transplant team to finalize plans before transplant. A transplant or nurse coordinator will explain what to expect at the transplant center and how to prepare for your time at the hospital.