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Immediately after a small bowel transplant, you will be taken to the intensive care unit (ICU) and carefully monitored, so the transplant team can check your body is accepting the new organ.Â
While in the ICU, you will have various tubes in your veins to provide medications and fluids, and you will be attached to monitoring equipment.
You may also have regular bowelÂ biopsies,Â where tissue samples are taken using the opening in your tummy created by the surgeon.Â
Alternatively, you may have anÂ endoscopy,Â where a long, thin tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the opening in your tummy, to examine the inside of your bowel.
The transplant team can determine whether your body is rejecting the bowel from your biopsy results.Â If it is, additional treatment with medications to suppress your immune system (immunosuppressants) will be given.
Once youÂ have started to recover, you will usually be transferred to a specialist transplant ward, where you willÂ continue to be given painkillers, immunosuppressant medication and nutrition through a tube into a vein (parenteral nutrition).
Over time, the vast majority of people are able to move fromÂ parenteral nutrition to eatingÂ a normal diet fed through the mouth.
How long it takes to recover fromÂ a small bowel transplant depends on whether you also had any other organs transplanted at the same time.Â Overall, the recovery period isÂ generally longer than for most other types of organ transplant.
On average, people who have a small bowel transplant are discharged from hospital after around four to six weeks.
If you live a long distance from the hospital, you may need toÂ stay inÂ nearby hospital-provided accommodation for a month or two after you are discharged, so you can be monitored carefully and treated quickly if any problems develop.
On leaving hospital, you will be given immunosuppressant medication to help prevent your body rejecting the transplant. This medication will need to be taken for the rest of your life.
For theÂ first fewÂ weeks or months after leaving hospital, you willÂ need to continue having regular blood tests and endoscopies, but these will be carried out less often over time. Eventually, you may only need to see your surgeon once a year and have blood tests every few months.
Although it can take a long time to make a full recovery from a small bowel transplant, and there is a risk of potentially serious complications, the aim of the operation is to eventually allow you to live as normal a life as possibleÂ â€“Â including working, enjoying hobbies and living independently.
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