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Methodist Healthcare

Transplant services

When an organ is compromised by trauma or begins to fail, a transplant may be the most suitable treatment. Transplants involve removing a healthy organ or tissue from a donor to replace a diseased organ, blood or bone marrow in a recipient.

Transplant surgeons in South Texas

An organ transplant can be life-changing and lifesaving. Our compassionate specialists approach each procedure with the individualized attention and expertise it deserves.

Methodist Healthcare is an international leader in transplant services. In the U.S., we established the first transplant programs for adult solid organ transplants and adult and pediatric stem cell transplants. Our specialized teams perform heart, kidney, lung, liver and pancreas transplants.

Related specialties

Learn more about our related specialties.

Types of transplant services we offer

Our specialists ensure we can address your condition with a crucial transplant, should an organ be available.

Hepatobiliary surgery

Our teams use advanced hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) surgery, more commonly known as hepatobiliary surgery, to treat cancer and diseases of the liver, pancreas, bile duct and gallbladder. HPB surgery involves the removal of primary and metastatic tumors in these organs, while also treating benign diseases such as cysts, bile duct injuries, gallstones and portal hypertension.

At our Methodist Hospital Specialty and Transplant facility, our team of highly trained health professionals are known for their expertise, offering personalized surgical services for liver, pancreas and biliary cancers. Our physicians diagnose, treat and provide care for numerous biliary disorders, including malignancy of their liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and transplant services.

Heart transplants

Heart transplants can be greatly beneficial, particularly if you are experiencing heart failure. The goal of the heart transplant program is to exhaust all medical therapies before resorting to a heart transplant, which is reserved as a final life-saving option. Transplants are only considered if you or your loved one has severe heart failure, meets the heart transplant criteria and have healthy additional organs. With the largest heart transplant program in Central and South Texas, our team has performed hundreds of transplants and implanted almost as many assist devices since the start of the program in 1986, and we continue to grow those numbers.

Our Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Program, located within Methodist Plaza, not only provides heart transplants for cases of heart failure, but also education and support services to ensure a healthy life, post-transplant. We also offer cardiac rehabilitation services, and provide you with the proper tools to maintain a healthy diet and build a long-term exercise plan.

For more information about our heart transplant services, please call (210) 575-8485.

Kidney transplants

In addition to traditional deceased kidney donor transplantation, we offer more options, so you can receive life-saving transplants even faster. We have a large living kidney donor program, meaning you can receive a kidney from a living donor with two healthy kidneys, instead of waiting for extended periods of time for a deceased donor kidney to become available.

We also have a specialized team solely dedicated to kidney paired donor exchange, designed to match up a donor and recipient pair with another pair that could be a compatible match for each other.

Liver transplants

As one of the top programs in the country for transplantation, hepatology and liver disease care, we have performed hundreds of liver transplants. On a percentage basis, we have transplanted more medically urgent patients than any other transplant facility in Texas.

If you have end-stage liver disease or liver failure, we offer comprehensive treatment programs, educational sessions and more to you and your family as you navigate the transplant journey. We evaluate your current level of health to determine the best path forward, and your care will be led by physicians with decades of combined expertise in all aspects of liver disease management, transplant services and procedures.

For more information about our liver transplant services, please call (210) 575-4837.

Lung transplants

Lung transplants are typically performed in response to severe lung disease, which can bring about symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chronic cough and exhaustion. Left untreated, these symptoms can lead to severe health complications or even death. Lung transplantation may be an option to consider if you have exerted all other treatments, while meeting transplant criteria.

Individuals eligible for a lung transplant typically suffer from any of several serious lung disorders, including:

  • Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema
  • Congenital heart disease with Eisenmenger syndrome
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM)
  • Pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis

Regardless of your condition, our transplant team will do a thorough evaluation to determine your eligibility for a transplant. This will include lung function tests, blood tests, imaging scans and other indicated studies, while also screening for other serious conditions, such as chronic infections, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Based on the type or severity of your condition, your overall health and the availability of donor lungs, the transplant team may decide to replace one or both of your lungs. In more rare, advanced cases, you may require a heart-lung transplant, where the heart is replaced at the same time. This is only considered when the lung disease affects both the heart and lungs, and both are irreversibly damaged.

Lung transplants are performed at the Methodist Hospital Lung Transplant Program, located inside in suite 119 of Methodist Plaza, off of Floyd Curl Drive and Medical Drive. Please enter through the front entrance of the Methodist Plaza. The closest parking lot is off Floyd Curl Drive and Medical Drive. To schedule a consultation, call (210) 575-9500 or submit a request.

Benefits of lung transplantation

Lung transplants have the potential to extend and improve the quality of your life. However, it is not possible to predict how long you will live after the procedure. While postoperative outcomes can vary based on your unique situation, about 80 percent of lung transplant recipients are able to perform daily activities without restriction.

Each lung transplant center has survival statistics for its transplant programs. For transplant programs in the United States, these statistics are collected by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients and are publicly available.

Lung transplant evaluation

At your initial visit, you will first meet with a lung transplant pulmonologist. You will receive blood work, lung function testing (pulmonary function tests, or PFTs) and a walk test, as well as a computerized tomography (CT) scan, if you haven’t had one performed recently. If you and the lung transplant team determine that you should move forward with the procedure, you will be scheduled to complete a lung transplant evaluation. If it’s too early to consider a transplant, or if there are other concerns, the evaluation may be delayed or not recommended.

Even if you have a severe lung condition that would greatly benefit from having the procedure, the team may decide that you are not a good candidate if you have other health problems that may affect the safety and success of the transplant. In order to determine your level of candidacy, you must undergo a transplant evaluation, which includes blood work, consultations with different members of the transplant team, and imaging studies — such as X-rays and CT scans. This evaluation will be done over several appointments, and generally takes one-to-two weeks.

The full range of tests you will undergo during the transplant evaluation include the following:

  • Blood, urine, and stool tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • CT scan
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan, otherwise known as a bone density scan
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Esophageal manometry
  • Left and right heart catheterization
  • Pulmonary function test
  • Ventilation-perfusion (V/Q) scan of the lungs

In addition, you will need to provide the results of the following screening tests, or have them done:

  • All candidates over age 50 need a current colonoscopy (within the last five years).
  • Females need a current gynecologic evaluation with Pap smear and HPV testing.
  • Females over age 40 will also need a current mammogram.
  • Males over age 40 need a current prostate specific antigen test (PSA).

After the evaluation is complete, all the information collected during the evaluation will be reviewed with the entire multidisciplinary transplant team, where a decision will be made. This decision could be any of the following:

  • You will be added to the transplant waitlist once financial approval is obtained.
  • You will be asked to do additional testing, or see additional specialists to help decide if you are a good transplant candidate.
  • You are declined because your evaluation shows that a lung transplantation is not the best option for you.

Information regarding the waitlist

Once it is determined that you are a positive transplant candidate and insurance approval is received, you will be placed on the national waiting list for a lung transplant. The national transplant waitlist is managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS helps to ensure the best use of a limited supply of organs, and gives all candidates a fair chance to receive the organ regardless of race, gender, religion, lifestyle or financial and social status.

Everyone on the waitlist is assigned a numerical value called the Lung Allocation Score (LAS), which is calculated by a computer based on physical and laboratory data. The LAS may change if your lung disease worsens. The duration of time you are on the waitlist will vary based on your blood type, height, how bad your lung disease is and your LAS. There is no way to know how long you will wait for a transplant. While you are on the waitlist, there are several protocols you should follow, including:

  • Being reachable by phone at all times
  • Continuing to follow up with the transplant clinic on a regular basis
  • Informing the transplant team of any change in health status, or if you are admitted to the hospital
  • Maintaining the best possible health

While you are on the waitlist, the lung transplant team will provide ongoing education to you and your family about what to expect before, during and after your transplant.

It is possible that you may be temporarily inactivated or permanently removed from the waitlist for one of the following reasons:

  • Developing health problems that would make transplantation unsafe
  • Engaging in any smoking or substance abuse
  • Refusing transplantation when an organ becomes available
  • Requesting to be removed from the waitlist

Organ selection

Donor lungs are matched with recipients based on blood type, body size (height and weight) and the size of the lungs. When donor lungs become available, they are first offered to the person with the highest LAS, who also matches the donor’s size and blood type. When a set of lungs is offered, the lung transplant team will review the donor’s medical and social history and examine the quality of the lungs to determine if they are acceptable size and quality for your transplant.

Transplant procedure

When potential donor lungs become available, a transplant coordinator will call you and instruct you to stop eating and drinking and come to the hospital as soon as possible. When you receive the call, you should arrive within four hours. You will be under the care of the lung transplant team once you arrive at the hospital, and the coordinator will let you know where in the hospital to go.

One you reach your hospital room, you will be prepared for lung transplant surgery. A chest X-ray, EKG and blood test will be done, and you will sign the consent for the surgery after it is reviewed with you. It is important to know that you may have to wait a significant amount of time for the transplant team to travel to the donor’s location and evaluate the donor lungs. There is a chance the transplant will be cancelled if the surgeon who examines the donor lungs determines that they are not of the highest quality. If this happens, you will be sent home and be told to prepare for the next opportunity.

After it is confirmed that the surgery will proceed, you will be taken to the operating room by the anesthesiologist. The length of time required for the actual operation varies, but generally it takes between six and ten hours. During the operation, you will have a breathing tube inserted to help you breathe. Once under anesthesia, an incision will be made across your chest for a double (bilateral) lung transplant, or along the side of your chest for a single lung transplant. Your lung, or lungs, will be removed, and new lungs will be placed in the chest.

Immediately after surgery, you will be sent to the intensive care unit (ICU) to recover under close monitoring. There, you will remain until you are ready to move to a regular hospital room. On average, the hospital stay for a lung transplant is around two-to-four weeks. You may also require transfer to a rehabilitation facility before you go home.

Before you leave the hospital, a transplant coordinator will provide post-transplant education for you and your caregivers. You will also meet with the transplant pharmacist who will explain all your transplant medications. You will receive your medications before you are discharged.


After discharge, you and your primary caregiver will be required to remain in San Antonio for a minimum of three months after your transplant. Here, you will be seen in the lung transplant clinic on a regular basis, and be required to complete outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation. During clinic visits, you will undergo regular testing, including X-rays and PFTs, and be seen by a transplant pulmonologist. A typical follow-up schedule goes as follows:

  • Every week, up to three months after transplant
  • Every month, from three months to one year after transplant
  • Every three months after the first year following transplant

Pancreas transplants

As we continue to perform dozens of pancreas and combination kidney-pancreas transplants, our program has become a preferred destination in Texas. Our dedicated team of clinical research and transplant services experts provides you with access to the newest developments in transplant medications and disease management. If you receive a pancreas transplant with our team, you will be cared for by the same experienced team that serves our kidney transplant program.

For more information about our pancreas transplant services, please call (210) 575-8425.

Transplant programs across South Texas

Our specialized transplant services are primarily carried out at Methodist Hospital Specialty and Transplant. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), this facility is the nation's number one living kidney donor program, further illustrating our commitment to high-quality transplant care.

We also have satellite clinics throughout the Greater San Antonio area for if you do not live locally. Our satellite clinics are open either on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, and are where you can receive your initial transplant evaluation.

Additionally, if you have received a transplant and are one-year into recovery and in good health, you may have the option to receive follow-up care at a satellite clinic, instead of commuting to San Antonio. Our satellite clinic locations include:

Organ donation

Every year, hundreds of lives are saved across the country because of organ transplantation, and many of them right in our back yard. This wouldn't be possible without the selfless sacrifices of individuals willing to share the gift of life. Our diverse transplant team has developed multiple leading programs for kidney, liver, pancreas, heart and lung transplants, and we hope to continue to evolve and grow our programs to help save more lives. When ordinary people are empowered to do extraordinary things, you give the gift of life. Be the reason behind someone’s tomorrow.

Learn more about becoming an organ donor.

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