Intestinal Transplant in Children

Intestinal Transplant in Children

Small Bowel Transplant for Intestinal Failure

Call for an Appointment

An intestinal transplant can be a lifesaving option for your child with intestinal failure. Duke is among a small number of U.S. hospitals with experienced transplant surgeons who perform intestinal transplants on children when disease prevents nutrients from being absorbed by the body. We have a long history of caring for children with gastrointestinal (GI) conditions, including short bowel syndrome, congenital intestinal disorders of malabsorption, trauma, dysmotility disorders such as pseudo-obstruction, and small bowel tumors, all of which can lead to intestinal failure. Our team will help your child through every step of this journey, from managing the condition before the transplant through recovery and follow-up.

Our Doctors
Meet our doctors, view their profiles, and select the one that’s right for you.
sliders Refine Results
Use My Current Location Locations Near You
Find an Intestinal Transplant Specialist
Matching Results
Showing of Doctors
Load More View All

The Intestinal Transplant Process

Intestinal failure may be medically treated with intestinal rehabilitation, which can restore your child’s ability to absorb nutrients and may delay or potentially eliminate the need for a small bowel transplant. However, an intestinal transplant may be an option if your child's condition is life-threatening. If it is considered an appropriate therapy for your child, the following process will take place.

Comprehensive Evaluation

The first step is an extensive evaluation with all members of the team. It may include various tests and screenings such as blood tests, abdominal imaging, and special procedures (for example, endoscopy and/or liver biopsy), depending on your child’s individual needs. Our transplant coordinator will help you plan for this evaluation.

Wait List

If the evaluation shows that intestinal transplantation is appropriate for your child, your child will be listed in the national database maintained and administered by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The average wait time is three to 12 months. Once you receive notification that an organ is available, your child will need to arrive at Duke within six hours.

Transplant Education

You will participate in transplant education to learn more about the process and expectations, the medications your child will need, and how to address your child’s physical and emotional needs before and after transplant. A primary and secondary caregiver will participate in more intensive education after the transplant but prior to your child's discharge from the hospital.


Following the intestinal transplant, doctors will closely monitor your child's response to the surgery. We will prescribe and manage medications to prevent rejection. In addition, we perform routine small-bowel biopsies to monitor the transplanted graft. The length of time children spend in the hospital post-transplant can vary from several weeks to several months. Your child will need to stay in the Durham area for an additional 1-3 months or possibly longer for follow-up care before returning home.

Our Location
Learn about the family-friendly services provided at Duke Children's Hospital.

Why Choose Duke

We Treat Children with Complex Conditions
We successfully treat children who have been declined for an intestinal transplant at other hospitals.

Access to Clinical Trials
Your child may be able to participate in clinical trials that test new therapies designed to improve nutrient absorption in people with intestinal failure, as well as ways to reduce transplant rejection. 

On Call 24/7 for Urgent Matters
An intestinal transplant coordinator is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Additionally, an intestinal transplant doctor is on call at all times for any urgent concerns that arise.

Help Navigating the Transplant Process
Our team also includes transplant coordinators, a dietitian, and a social worker, who help you navigate the process. These team members can answer questions you may have about the wait time before the small bowel transplant, the surgery, physical and emotional issues, dietary requirements, and more.


toy phone
Call for an Appointment

Extensive Transplant Experience

A Team of Experts
The Duke intestinal transplant program is led by experts in hepatology (care of the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree, and pancreas) and transplant medicine and surgery, some of whom hold leadership positions in national transplant organizations such as the Intestinal Rehabilitation and Transplant Association and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

Multiple-Organ Transplant Experience
We perform multi-organ transplants that include the small intestine, large intestine, liver, pancreas, and/or kidney.

Patient Outcomes at One Year Exceed National Average
According to the Scientific Registry for Transplant Recipients, 100% of our patients are alive with a functioning transplant one year after surgery, compared to a national figure of 81%.

We Help Set National Guidelines, Develop Educational Materials
Our doctors and surgeons test new techniques and therapies and help set national guidelines. They also develop educational materials that are used when intestinal transplants are performed internationally.

Best Children's Hospital in NC
In addition to being among the best in the country, Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in nine pediatric specialties.

Patient Resources

Reviewed: 05/28/2018