The best transplant center for a patient should be a reasonably close facility with good services and ongoing support for transplant recipients so they can receive assistance even years down the line. People preparing for transplants may want to start by getting recommendations from a surgeon and checking them against a list of centers their insurance companies work with to get an idea of the available options. There are some other steps people can take to research transplant centers and choose the best option.
Geographic location is critical, especially for people who are waiting for organs. The closer a patient is to the transplant center, the more likely that person is to get an organ, as donor allocation considers whether the patient can get to the center in time for the organ to still be viable. People may also want to think about finding a facility close to friends and family so they can visit and provide support. After discharge, patients may still need assistance, and lack of available assistance can be a barrier to receiving transplants in some facilities.
People should also make sure a transplant center handles the kinds of transplants they need; someone waiting on a heart, for example, needs to confirm that heart transplants are available at a given facility. Other considerations can include the center's success rate and experience with that type of transplant. Good signs can include a strong reputation in the medical community and a history of publishing in medical journals, which indicates that personnel at the center are constantly improving their techniques and working on making transplants better.
Costs can be a concern. Insurance companies may not cover all costs at some facilities. Patients can ask about pricing and also check with insurance to find out how much will be covered. People may also want to think about costs such as staying in a hotel or short term rental while waiting for transplant or shortly after discharge, if they anticipate the need to travel to a transplant center for care. Other expenses can include housing friends and family during surgery and recovery, as well as providing people with food and other basic needs while they support an ill family member.
The follow up at a transplant center is also an important concern. Reputable centers will require regular follow up visits to monitor progress and provide consulting services by request if patients have questions or concerns. If these services are not available, patients need to think about what they will do if they experience rejection and other illnesses associated with transplant. Finally, people may also want to seek out a transplant center with accreditation from a professional organization. This certification indicates a commitment to excellence, as well as a dedication to observing basic professional ethical and medical standards.