Intestinal Transplantation Program

The Intestinal Rehabilitation and Transplantation Program at Lurie Children’s is one of the few programs in the nation dedicated to caring for children with an improperly functioning small bowel (small intestine). Intestinal failure occurs when this important part of the digestive system cannot absorb nutrients and fluids. A child with intestinal failure needs long-term nutritional support.

Patient & Graft Survival Rates

We are committed to avoiding intestinal transplant if possible. Since the program began in 2003, about 90% of our patients have avoided transplant through intestinal rehabilitation. Of those patients, 95% no longer need feeding through a vein (total parenteral nutrition, or TPN). This spares them the cost and possible complications of TPN.

When a child needs an intestinal transplant, our survival rate is well above the national average of 66% at three years. Learn more about our patient and graft survival rates.

The Lurie Children's Difference

Lurie Children’s provides family-centered care, with many support programs. We use a multidisciplinary team approach, which includes the patient and family. You and your child will meet with experts from different healthcare specialties who work together to make up our transplant team.

We also have a strong commitment to clinical and laboratory research. Through research, we find and test new ways of helping children with intestinal failure become healthy. Our lab research includes a study on how intestinal stem cells affect the way the intestine adapts after intestinal resection. Studying this adaptive process could improve patient survival rates.

Clinical research with other medical centers includes a registry and long-term study of children with intestinal failure called the Pediatric Intestinal Failure Consortium. This study is helping doctors better understand liver disease and develop best practices in treatment.

What to Expect

Our team fully evaluates each child with intestinal failure to decide the most effective treatment plan. Your child’s first visit with our team may include:

  • Physical exam and health history
  • Psychosocial (mental and emotional health) assessment
  • Imaging and lab tests as needed
  • Financial needs assessment

The first goal in treatment is to improve intestine function. The Intestinal Rehabilitation Program offers medical, surgical and nutritional treatments to reduce or stop dependence on TPN. Surgical techniques, such as STEP (serial transverse enteroplasty), try to enhance the quality and function of the patient’s intestine by increasing length and volume of the bowel. The goal is to improve the child’s nutrition, growth and development.

Our team provides support and education through all steps of treatment.

If a transplant is the best option, we will place your child on the transplant waiting list. Lurie Children’s is a leader in pediatric transplantation.


If you’d like to request an appointment with one of our specialists, call 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC®) or visit our Appointments page for more information. 

Tests & Treatments