Anesthesia for Organ Transplant

This information is useful for children and adults
A woman visits a man in the hospital.
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Yale Medicine is a destination center for transplants, often treating patients who have been turned down elsewhere.
  • While we treat some of the most seriously ill patients, our patients' survival rates are consistently higher than the national average.
  • Our anesthesiologists provide patient care before and after organ transplantation .

If you are nervous about going under anesthesia, you might feel better to know that anesthesiologists are focused on making sure surgery patients are as safe and comfortable as possible. If you or a loved one is undergoing an organ transplant, that work starts long before the day of surgery.

"Our role does not really start and end in the operating room,” says Ranjit Deshpande, MD, director of transplant anesthesiology for Yale Medicine and assistant professor of anesthesiology for Yale School of Medicine. Yale Medicine's specialized anesthesiologists are deeply involved in the entire transplant process, even working with the transplant team to make sure each new patients is an appropriate candidate for transplant, then following patients through surgery and recovery.

Two types of patients are involved in the transplant process: organ donors—who may be living or deceased—and organ recipients. 

“When involved in living donor transplants, we make sure that each patient (both the donor and the recipient) is under the care of a separate anesthesiologist,” says Dr. Deshpande. “This enables us to ensure that each patient receives the most personalized attention possible throughout the transplant process.”

Because living donors are typically healthy, there tend to be few, if any, complications related to their surgeries. After surgery, donors are transferred to an intensive care unit (ICU), where they stay for a day or two, depending on the specifics of the procedure and their overall physical and functional status.

Organ recipients often have complex cases with interrelated conditions. “We are used to taking care of the sickest of the sick patients here,” says Dr. Deshpande, adding that many organ recipients often have more than one chronic disease—and any, chronic disease can impact choices in anesthesia.