Patients with complex care needs often choose to travel in order to receive the care they feel is best for them. Transplant centers are accustomed to caring for patients from out-of-state and even patients from other countries. Many centers have concierge services to assist with housing and transportation needs, and international offices to help with visas and travel. Even with these resources you may have questions regarding traveling to a transplant center for evaluation and surgery. Here are frequent Q&As we often receive from out-of-state patients:
Q: Where will I stay and can my caregiver/family stay with me?
When you’re traveling to a transplant center for your evaluation, you’ll need overnight accommodations, sometimes for several days or even a week. Most transplant evaluations include outpatient testing and consultations, so you won’t be admitted to the hospital unless it’s necessary. Patients can choose to stay in a hotel, an extended stay residence, or in a transplant house nearby if you’re receiving care at Mayo Clinic. Our transplant houses are a popular option because the cost is low, and patients can visit with others who are in their same situation. Some transplant houses don’t allow children, but your caregiver is welcome to stay with you. Check with your local facility for their policies before you make your reservation.
Q: How will I get around town and back and forth to my appointments?
Many cities that have transplant centers also have public transportation options. Some patients choose to rent a car for extended stays, but often they use a city bus or taxis to get around town. If you’re staying at a hotel or transplant house, often they’ll have shuttle services that will take you to and from your appointments. Mayo Clinic has employees who will escort you to all of your appointments, help with directions, and provide you with wheelchairs if needed.
Q: Once I am on the waiting list, do I need to relocate closer to my transplant center?
After your evaluation is complete and you’re placed on the waiting list, you should be able to return home to wait for your organ transplant. Once your doctors see that your time may come soon for transplant, they’ll let you know if you need to relocate. Depending on your current location and the organ you need, you may be able to remain at home and drive to the transplant center once you’re called for your transplant. If you’re too far away to drive, a charter flight or medical transport may be an option if your insurance plan covers it, or if you have the financial means to pay the out-of-pocket expense.
Q: How long will I stay away from home before and after my transplant?
Evaluation for transplant can take 3-5 days or more, depending on the organ you need and your current medical condition. Once you pass through that initial evaluation, you may need additional testing. Often that testing can be performed at home with your local provider, but occasionally you’ll need to travel back to the transplant center a time or two before you’re listed on the waiting list. Once you’re on the transplant list, most transplant centers will ask you to return once per year while you wait to update your testing and renew your registration on the waiting list. Waiting time on the list varies, but your care team can provide you with an average time that you may wait.
After your transplant surgery, you’ll be asked to stay in town nearby the transplant center until you have fully recovered. Recovery is different for each patient and each organ transplant, but you can expect to stay near your transplant center between two weeks and three months. During this time you’ll meet frequently with your doctor, sometimes every day, to determine when it’s safe for you to return home.
Q: Do I need someone with me the entire time during my wait and after my transplant?
Transplant caregivers are a critical part of your transplant. Most transplant centers require you to have one or more caregivers identified for the time before and after your transplant. Your caregiver can attend appointments with you, take notes, help you with activities of daily living, help with medications, and many other tasks associated with your transplant and recovery. You should plan to bring someone to each of your visits to the transplant center and have someone identified to care for you after your transplant and when you return home.
All of this sounds like a lot of work and planning, and it is, but it doesn’t have to be done alone. Your caregiver is there to help you make these plans and decisions, and your transplant center is there to help make your time before and after transplant as simple as possible. If you’re receiving care at Mayo Clinic, we want your experience to be stress-free so you can remain focused on your health.
Do you have other concerns about going out-of-state for your transplant? Comment below; we’re happy to address more questions any time!