Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

The call: "A replacement organ has been found for you".

Now is the time to hurry

Even if you eagerly wish for this day during the waiting period, the call with the organ offer comes suddenly and may catch you unprepared. Transplantation through brain death donation cannot be planned and the offer of a new organ can come at any time of day or night, usually the call comes in the late evening or at night. The transplant coordinator or service doctor makes the phone call. On the phone, we ask you about your current state of health (for example, whether you have a fever or a flu-like infection) and go through the rest of the procedure with you until the transplantation.


Approach without difficulties
Please note the following:

Please contact us in advance if you wish to travel to the clinic. Please do not drive your own car! You must remain sober from the time of the call, i.e. do not eat, drink or smoke! Please also remember to carry your mobile phone with you for the journey to us.

On arrival, please report to the gate of the Surgical Clinic of Heidelberg University Hospital and ask to be directed to the Visceral Transplant Station (VTS / Tel: 06221 56 6479) of the TRANSPLANT CENTRE.

At the VTS, you will be welcomed by the nursing team and the doctors on duty.

Our tip
Keep calm

Important for you in this situation: Keep calm! To ensure a smooth journey in the event of an organ offer, please have a taxi voucher - without a date and marked: "Transport to transplantation" - issued by your family doctor's practice as soon as you have been included on the Eurotransplant waiting list.

For your own safety and that of your relatives, please also find a taxi company in your place of residence and discuss the permanent availability with them. Attach the destination address to your blank taxi voucher:

Surgical Clinic of Heidelberg University Hospital
Im Neuenheimer Feld 420
69120 Heidelberg


Arrival at the Visceral Transplant Station (VTS)

Here, too, things get turbulent again

Once you arrive on the ward, things can get a bit turbulent for you again. In a short time we will perform important examinations such as an X-ray of the lungs and an ECG. We will insert a small catheter to take blood samples, which will also be used by the anaesthetists to administer the medication. A surgeon and an anaesthetist will have final explanatory talks with you. Our nursing team will take some circulatory parameters, measure your temperature and ask you to weigh yourself. The surgical area will be shaved and special stockings will be fitted to prevent thrombosis.

While we are looking after you, the operation to prepare the donor organ is already taking place. Our transplant team will examine the organ to make sure it is suitable for transplantation. If the liver cannot be transplanted, the operation must be cancelled at this time.


In the operating theatre

TX programmes and surgical techniques

The entire operation can take between three and 12 hours, depending on how difficult - and therefore time-consuming - the removal of the organs and the suturing of the vessels are. On average, the operation takes about five to six hours.

The special features and peculiarities of the transplantation procedures for different organs or the possibly different surgical techniques will be discussed in the description of the individual Ttransplantation programmes.

TX programmes and surgical techniques


Intensive care unit and monitoring ward

Interdisciplinary Operative Intensive Care Unit (IOPIS) and Visceral Transplant Station (VTS)

Immediately after the transplantation you will come to our intensive care unit, ward 13 IOPIS (Interdisciplinary Operative Intensive Care Unit) for further treatment and monitoring. The intensive care unit has been managed jointly by the departments of anaesthesiology and surgery since 2001. The close cooperation between anaesthesiology and surgery is intended to enable modern, efficient intensive care medicine at the highest level and to optimise the success of treatment for the patient. The intensive care unit is staffed around the clock by at least two doctors and about eight nurses specialised in intensive care medicine.

Waking up in the intensive care unit for the first time is of course a special moment. If you have never been in an intensive care unit before, you should know that the monitor, the catheters and drains, the dosing machines and, if necessary, the ventilator are by no means unusual.


For monitoring purposes, every patient in the intensive care and monitoring ward is connected to a monitor via adhesive electrodes.

This allows the heart function, blood pressure and oxygen content of the blood to be constantly monitored. The values are visible on a screen in the form of numbers and curves; it gives an alarm in case of the slightest changes.

This usually indicates a situation that needs attention, rarely does it indicate an acute danger.

Catheters and drains

Venous catheters are thin plastic tubes that lie in a blood vessel. They are used to add fluids, nutrients and medication. They are also used to take blood samples.
Body fluids are drained via bladder catheters (urine) or tubes (gastric juice). In addition, tubes are inserted in the wound area after the operation to drain blood and wound secretions to the outside.

The fluid inflow and outflow is closely balanced and corrected if necessary.


If breathing is artificially supported, a thin ventilation tube is inserted into the windpipe through the mouth or nose. This is connected to the ventilator and thus ensures sufficient oxygen supply. As long as the ventilator is necessary, patients can be in an artificial sleep.
When awake, the tube is often perceived as a foreign body, but it does not hurt. The awake patient cannot speak with the tube, but you can communicate well through sign language and writing tablets.

Daily examinations and blood samples are taken during the first days after the operation. If the findings are unclear, a computer tomography or angiography may also be performed. Complications are avoided or treated promptly through close monitoring. In this way, we are prepared for potentially dangerous situations and can react quickly and effectively. The nurses monitor and observe all the equipment used to monitor and treat you. Often the nurse or the attending doctor is reminded of something or the beeping indicates a loose electrode, for example.

If the patient is no longer able to perform activities such as personal hygiene, movements, food intake, etc. independently, he or she is supported accordingly by the nursing staff. However, our aim is always to restore our patients' own activity as quickly as possible. To do this, we depend on your help.

During the operation, your personal aids such as glasses, hearing aids, dentures, toiletries and shoes are kept in the intensive care unit so that you can use them again immediately after the operation. However, you will not need any personal linen during your stay in the intensive care and monitoring unit.

Following intensive therapy, you will continue to be cared for in the Visceral Transplant Ward (VTS) - our surgical monitoring ward. 
In order to achieve the best possible treatment success, the cooperation of all disciplines involved is bundled on these two wards.