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Boston Children's has launched the world's 1st program dedicated to offering hand transplants to children who qualify.
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Once a new organ(s) has been found, things move very quickly. You will be called and asked to bring your child to the Admitting Office and then to the Transplant floor to get ready for surgery. Our team will make sure that you and your family are comfortable and informed.
Keep in mind that it is possible that you may be sent home again if one or both of the following things occur:
It’s normal to be nervous, but you can rest assured that your child is in good hands—his pediatric surgeon has the expertise required to work with the tiny vessels and ducts found in children.
What happens when we arrive at the hospital?
When you arrive at the hospital, members of your the transplant team will perform a physical exam and run some tests to make sure your child is healthy to go to the operating room.
What happens in the operating room?
Often, the anesthesiologist will allow you to take your child into the operating room and stay with him until he’s given anesthesia and falls asleep.
Next, special catheters are inserted into your child’s blood vessels and urinary bladder. A nasogastric tube will be inserted through his nose into the stomach.
For an intestine transplant, the surgeon will remove the damaged intestine from your child's body and attach the new intestine. If your child is having a multivisceral transplant, the surgeon will remove the damaged organs from your child and attach the new ones. Surgeons need only to connect one artery (the aorta - the body's main artery) and one vein when reattaching the organs into the patient, as opposed to all the blood vessels that would be involved with each organ separately.
How long will the transplant operation take?
Each child and each transplant is different, but an isolated intestinal transplant surgery takes at least three to four hours to complete. A multivisceral transplant operation is more complex and can take up to 10 hours to complete.
Because your child needs to be prepared for anesthesia and have all of the special catheters and tubes inserted, you may not see him for a bit longer than the actual surgery itself, but you will be regularly updated as to the progress of surgery and his condition.
What happens after surgery?
After the surgery, your child will go to the intensive care unit (ICU) to be monitored closely. After his condition is stable, your family is welcome to visit.
While your child is in the ICU, members of the transplant team will begin to educate you and your family on how to care for your child after his operation. This will include information about medications, activity, follow-up, diet and any other specific instructions.
How long will my child be in the hospital?
If all goes well, your child will stay in the hospital for at least a few weeks. The first several days are spent in the ICU, and the rest in a single room in the Solid Organ Transplant Unit. During this time:
Our goal is to have you feel comfortable and confident with all aspects of care before your child comes home. The patient care coordinator at Boston Children’s will work with you and your insurance company to set up the medications and any in-home nursing care that might be needed after discharge.
After the transplant, your child’s team will want to keep a close eye on him through follow-up visits to make sure that everything is going well. These visits might include:
How can I help keep my child safe after the transplant?
We understand that you will want to do everything possible to protect your child and his new organ(s), and there are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of infection.
Transplant surgery can be disruptive and frightening - not only for the patient, but for your whole family. From your first visit, you’ll work with a team of professionals at Boston Children's that is committed to supporting its patients and their families.
Patient education: Our nurses are on hand to walk you through the transplant process and help answer any questions you may have. They will also reach out to you by phone, continuing the care and support you received while at Boston Children’s.
Parent to parent: Want to talk with someone whose child has had an intestinal or multivisceral transplant? We can often put you in touch with other families who can share their experience.
Faith-based support: If you and your family find yourself in need of spiritual support, we can connect you with the Boston Children’s chaplaincy. Our program includes nearly a dozen clergy representing Episcopal, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Unitarian and United Church of Christ traditions who will listen to you, pray with you and help you observe your own faith practices during your treatment experience.
Social work and mental health professionals: Our social workers and mental health clinicians have helped many other families in your situation. We can offer counseling and assistance with issues such as coping with your child’s diagnosis, stresses relating to coping with illness and dealing with financial difficulties.
Our For Patients and Families site has all you need to know about:
Our patient-centered approach means that we want your child to not only get better, but also feel good along the way. Throughout the hospital, you¹ll find clinicians trained in therapies that can make your child feel more comfortable, learn to shift focus away from pain and enjoy some peaceful moments during what may be an anxious time. Read more about how acupuncture, guided meditation, guided imagery, massage, Reiki and therapeutic touch could help your child.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”