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Preparing for the Transplant

ISSUES ON THE WAITING LIST

Successful transplantation takes commitment and hard work. You should begin preparing for your transplant before surgery.

A pre-transplant medical evaluation by your transplant team is part of your preparation. You also have a responsibility to maintain your health and prepare mentally and emotionally for your transplant and afterwards.

Patients on the waiting list are usually seen by a member of the transplant team and/or transplant coordinator in the outpatient clinic on a schedule or as dictated by his or her medical condition. During these visits the patient's condition is assessed and suitability for transplantation is updated. If necessary, further medical consultations or studies are performed.


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Many people continue to receive medical care from their local doctors while others choose or are required to transfer their care to the transplant center. In every case, the patient's referring doctor and the transplant team should work closely together. Patients whose condition worsens while on the waiting list may be admitted directly or transferred to the transplant center once their condition stabilizes.

GET INTO THE HABIT OF GOOD HEALTH

Your illness may make you feel tired and you may have physical limitations or pain. It is not uncommon for some patients to need repeated hospitalizations or surgeries while ill. You may also have many appointments and procedures or tests. All of these may make it more challenging for you to maintain your health and to plan health care for the future.

Nevertheless, getting into the habit of good health is important as you prepare for your transplant. Keep up with routine and preventative health measures and follow the advice of your current health care team.

Physical Health Matters

Your health condition may impact the status of your transplant. So do your best to maintain your health. The healthier you are, the better chance of a positive result.

Keep yourself in the best health possible by taking your medications, eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest. If you are a woman of childbearing age, use effective birth control after consulting with your doctor.

Provide any information requested by your transplant team. Follow your doctor’s orders and do what the transplant team asks. For example, you should carry out all the tests requested. If there is a reason you can’t do something, tell your transplant team. Keep the transplant team informed of any changes in your health.

Don’t get discouraged. Remember - delays, postponements or cancellations may not have anything to do with what you have done. These can occur despite your best efforts.

Emotional Health Matters Too!

Even as you take care of your physical health, remember to take care of your emotional health.

Everyone’s experience is a little different. Some people preparing for their transplant may experience sadness, guilt, loss, fear, anxiety, and anger. You may feel overwhelmed. Other people experience positive feelings like renewed hope, excitement, and gratitude. You may have a range of feelings and emotions.

All of these feelings are normal. Feelings don’t have to make sense, but it is important to acknowledge them!

How can you manage these feelings? Start by focusing on your strengths and gathering your support. Feel free to express your feelings to someone you trust. Perhaps keeping a journal can help you manage your feelings. Relaxation is another strategy to deal with feelings and emotions. Some people like to feel in control of events. Take steps to feel empowered and regain a sense of control by educating yourself about what to expect. Become an advocate for yourself. Ask questions and requests explanations for things you might not understand. Be an active participant in your healthcare.

Have realistic expectations. Setting realistic goals and expectations is one way to minimize stress and negative feelings. Recognize that your transplant may not automatically restore your life as it was before. Setbacks, delays, and surprises can become a regular part of managing illness and transplant. Even your best laid plans may have to be adapted to unexpected situations. So be flexible and patient.

Plan for the future, but live in the present. Finally, go on with usual activities and try to enjoy your life.

PREPARING FOR YOUR TRANSPLANT

Preparing for your transplant involves a pre-transplant medical evaluation by your transplant team.

Your transplant team will request a number of medical tests. These tests give a better picture of your overall health, and help identify issues that may need to be dealt with before or after transplantation. They also help determine whether transplantation is your best option. This increases the likelihood of success.

While many of the medical tests are the same, some medical evaluations depend on the organ to be transplanted.

  • Kidney
  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Other Organs

Plan Ahead for Activities of Daily Living

Preparing for your transplant also means accepting responsibility for planning ahead. Your commitment is key. Plan ahead for social support and transportation. Consider and explore financial and insurance questions ahead of time with the transplant team.

You will need to plan for activities of daily living for yourself (assistance with transportation, errands, medications, personal care) and others who may depend on you (children, elderly parents, pets, anyone or anything that you are responsible for). Immediately after the transplant you will need help. Having social support is an important part of being able to manage transplantation successfully.

Consider the impact your transplant will have on the family. Stress associated with chronic illness, surgery and hospitalizations can bring out the best and the worst in relationships, and expose new and/or changing roles within the family. Explore these issues ahead of time.

Economic and Insurance Issues

It is important to plan for job-related and other economic issues. If you are employed, you need to plan time off of work. Consider the save sick/vacation time you have accumulated, look into short-term disability options or Social Security Disability.

You will need to explore insurance issues. For example, know your out of pocket costs and medication costs and co-pays.

It is also important to anticipate miscellaneous costs such as parking, phone, and local housing.