Living with a Transplant
Receiving an organ transplant is a gift of life. However, keeping yourself and your new organ healthy is a lifelong commitment. You might be taking more pills than you ever have before. You might be facing new health issues that you did not expect. You may find yourself too tired to do the things you love in life. The transplant journey is certainly not an easy one, but if you can understand what to expect and learn to properly care for your new organ, you can enjoy this new lease on life.
Immediately After the Transplant
Once you are out of the hospital, you are your transplant team’s “eyes and ears.” You will need to tell them how you feel and if you are experiencing any side effects, since this information will help them make decisions about adjusting your medications. It is very important that you take your transplant medications exactly as prescribed in order to have the best chance to avoid rejection.
Be certain all of your questions about the medicines have been answered and that you understand the names of your medicines, the reasons you are taking each one, what times you should take your medicines and each of the doses.
Weeks After the Transplant
In the first several weeks after a transplant, you will probably be very tired. Although it may be hard, exercising will help you gain strength and energy. Start gradually; you may want to begin by walking before moving on to more strenuous exercise, but don’t overdo it!
You can also do normal household activities, as long as they are not too exhausting. Ask your transplant team about when you can return to your daily activities such as work, school or church.
Six Months to a Year After the Transplant
You are more than likely feeling better than you did before the transplant. However, rejection is still a possibility. To be prepared, you should review the signs and symptoms of rejection from time to time. Also, because rejection can occur without any signs or symptoms, it is very important for you to continue to get the lab tests your transplant team requests.
Exercise is still very important, because it can help you maintain your weight, stay fit and keep a positive outlook. Weight-bearing exercises can also help prevent bone loss and build bone mass. This is important because some of your anti-rejection medications (especially steroids) can make your bones weak. Your transplant team will help you develop an exercise program that fits your needs.
One Year After The Transplant
By now, you have adjusted to your new life as a transplant recipient. Even though you are feeling healthy, it is still important to take your medications as instructed and go to your regular appointments. You should also resume your other, non-transplant medical checkups, including regular dental and eye exams and yearly flu shots.
Living with a transplant is definitely a life-changing experience and will certainly take some getting used to. However, research is currently finding new ways to make living with a transplant easier and more successful.
Join forces to make a difference
With your help and support for organ transplantation research, we can make living with a transplant an easy transition for recipients. Support organ transplantation research today!