Small Bowel Transplant Services

The Small Bowel Transplant Program at UI Health is at the forefront of establishing the standard of care for patients with intestinal failure and patients who may require intestinal transplant. Our program optimizes existing clinical strategies, while developing new approaches through clinical and basic scientific research. Our integrated approach combines medical, surgical, lifestyle, and nutritional strategies to reduce or eliminate parenteral nutrition (PN) dependency and provides specific instruction on proper catheter care.

Our surgeons are experienced in a full array of intestine transplant and nontransplant procedures, including isolated intestine transplants for patients with short bowel syndrome and no liver disease using deceased donors and living donors, and intestine-liver transplants for those patients who have developed irreversible liver disease. Our clinicians are international leaders in the refinement of technique for dietary, medical, and surgical management of patients with intestinal failure, including:

  • Isolated intestinal transplant for patients with intestinal and no or limited/reversible liver disease
  • Combined liver-intestine transplant for patients with intestinal and irreversible PN-induced liver disease
  • Serial transverse enteroplasty (STEP)
  • Surgical management of complex fistula disease

Living-Donor Small Bowel Transplant

UI Health is the only center in the country to offer living-donor small bowel transplantation. Living-donor small intestine transplants - in which a portion of the organ is taken from a compatible donor, usually a close family member - have outcomes comparable to cadaveric transplants.

The first adult living-donor bowel transplantation was performed by Dr. Enrico Benedetti at UI Health in 1998, and UI Health has the largest living-donor intestinal transplantation program in the world.

Recent improvements in immunosuppressant agents make small bowel transplantation a more feasible option for patients with irreversible, end-stage intestinal failure for whom all conventional treatments have failed. Successful bowel transplantation provides for lower morbidity and overall costs when compared to the impact of chronic, end-stage bowel disease.

At UI Health, patients are provided with a coordinated and seamless individualized plan by a team of gastroenterologists, surgeons, nurses, and dietitians to better define the role and timing of intestinal transplantation due to intestinal failure. PN-dependent, high-risk patients are closely monitored for the need for intestinal transplantation before the situation becomes irreversible due to severe intestinal failure-associated liver disease (IFALD) or other life-threatening parenteral nutrition PN-associated complications.

Small Bowel Transplant Program History

UI Health doctors and researchers pioneered some of the first major organ transplants in Illinois and the world. Our physicians have developed the national guidelines to treat patients with short bowel syndrome and have pioneered the development of new medical therapies for intestinal failure, including clonidine to treat diarrhea, choline to treat intestinal failure-associated liver disease, and teduglutide to improve nutrient and fluid absorption and decrease dependence on PN.

Dr. Enrico Benedetti performed the first adult living-donor bowel transplant in Illinois in 1998. Since then many innovations have been introduced in the field of small bowel transplantation by our team, including the first liver and small bowel transplant from the same living donor into the same recipient worldwide (2004) and the first combined living donor liver-small bowel transplant in the world (2005).

Today, UI Health is the largest living donor intestinal transplant program in the world and one of just two programs in the world offering living-donor transplant for the abdominal organs - kidney, liver, pancreas, small bowel, combined liver/bowel, and combined kidney/pancreas.