How do I choose a transplant center?
Calling different centers to ask questions can provide useful information and give you a better sense of the transplant center and its atmosphere. Things you may wish to inquire about include the following:
- How many transplants has the center completed for people with your specific condition? (Ideally, you should undergo a transplant at a center that has done at least ten transplants of the type that you need).
- Are you going to have the same staff treating you throughout the transplant? (Most transplant centers have doctors and physician assistants rotate on a regular basis).
- Will you be allowed to go outside, walk in the halls, or will you be confined to your room?
- Will you have access to an exercise machine? Will you be visited by a physical therapist?
- Will you have access to a social worker or counselor during the transplant?
- Can the hospital accommodate your dietary needs? Can you ask for food at any time of the day or do you have to order it a day in advance? Are you allowed to eat raw fruits and vegetables? (Having a flexible eating schedule can be helpful as you may be nauseated and may not want to eat during conventional mealtimes).
- What is the average time that the nurses have worked in the BMT unit?
- How experienced are the physicians at the center and are there specialists available to handle complications should they arise?
- Is there a support group for patients or their families?
- What is the survival rate for patients with your condition in your age group undergoing your type of transplant?
- How does the staff feel about patients putting up "Do Not Disturb" or "Please Knock" signs on the door?
- Could someone who has undergone a transplant at the center contact you to tell you about their experience?
- What is the visitor policy? How flexible is it? (Having your caregiver stay at the hospital overnight can be very comforting).
- What living arrangements can be made for you and your family if you need to move away from your home to the transplant center? What will the cost of the living expenses be?
- Can the center provide any assistance to defray some of the family’s expenses?
- Does the center have a long-term follow-up clinic that is easily accessible and will respond to questions once you leave the transplant center? (This is particularly important if your oncologist in your area of residence has very little experience with transplants).
- Individuals undergoing a transplant from an unrelated donor should also inquire whether the center has a donor search coordinator and a quality tissue typing facility.
Visiting the transplant center before the transplant to familiarize yourself with the transplant setting and some of the staff is often comforting. While you are there, you might inquire if you can speak to patients undergoing transplants at the center to get their impressions, feedback and tips.
Please call the Link at 1-800-LINK-BMT (800-546-5268) or e-mail us for more information.
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