An intestinal transplant can be a lifesaving option when disease or trauma prevents nutrients from moving through the intestines and being absorbed by the body. Duke is one of the few hospitals in the U.S. with experienced transplant surgeons who perform intestinal transplants. Our team will help you through every step of this journey, from managing your condition before the transplant through recovery and follow-up. We are here for you.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Intestinal Failure Treatment Options
Duke has a long history of treating adults with GI conditions including Crohn’s Disease, short bowel syndrome, trauma, or a small bowel tumor, all of which can lead to intestinal failure. Intestinal failure treatments may include:
- Intestinal rehabilitation, which can restore your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and may delay the need for transplant
- Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN), which delivers nutrition intravenously through a catheter
However, if your condition is life-threatening, an intestinal transplant may be a better alternative.
Intestinal Transplant Process
If the evaluation shows that intestinal transplantation would be appropriate for you, you will be listed in the national database maintained and administered by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The median wait time at Duke is 67 days, compare to 225 days nationwide. Once you receive notification that an organ is available, you will need to arrive at Duke within six hours.
You and your caregivers will participate in transplant education classes to learn more about the experience, the medications you will need, and how to address your physical and emotional needs before and after transplant. If you need to temporarily relocate to the Durham, NC, area for your treatment, a transplant coordinator can also assist you in gathering resources and support.
Following the intestinal transplant, doctors will closely monitor your 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 patients spend in the hospital post-transplant can vary from three weeks to three months. You will stay in the Durham area for follow-up care before returning home.
Your Caregivers Are Our Partners
We involve your designated caregivers (family members or friends) from the time of your first evaluation through recovery. They attend each of your appointments, and we educate them about their important role in taking care of you before and after surgery. Since a caregiver should attend all appointments with you, we often recommend you choose two caregivers, in case one is not able to attend an appointment or if it is better for two caregivers to take turns caring for you.
Meet Others Through Support Groups
These social worker-led sessions give you and your caregivers the chance to meet with others for emotional support, ask questions, and share information about issues such as medications, nutrition, and exercise as well as the psychological and emotional effects of your transplant experience.
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our gastroenterology and GI surgery program is nationally ranked, and the highest ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2021–2022.
Your Intestinal Transplant Team
Experts in Intestinal Transplant
The Duke intestinal transplant program is led by experts in hepatology (care of the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree, and pancreas) and transplant medicine, some of whom hold leadership positions in the Intestinal Rehabilitation and Transplant Association and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Our transplant surgeons have successfully treated people who have been declined for an intestinal transplant at other hospitals. In addition to intestinal transplants, we also perform multi-organ transplants that include the small intestine, liver, pancreas, and kidney.
National and International Leaders
As nationally respected leaders in the transplant field, 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.
Access to Clinical Trials
Our national involvement includes participation 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. You or your child may be eligible to participate.
Dedicated Transplant Coordinator
Our team also includes transplant coordinators who help you navigate the process. These advanced-care nurses and our social worker can answer questions you or your caregivers may have about the wait time before the small bowel transplant, the surgery, financial concerns, physical and emotional issues, dietary requirements, and more.
On Call 24/7/365
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 needs that arise.