If you or a loved one has been waiting for a kidney, liver, lung or other organ transplant, finally getting the life-saving surgery is unquestionably wonderful. But what happens after a transplant surgery?
In the Hospital
Immediately following a transplant operation, patients are taken to the intensive care unit where the IU Health physicians, nurses and other professionals trained in transplant care will watch over you during recovery. From the intensive care, you will be transferred to a regular hospital room and eventually discharged. Before leaving the hospital, your care team will teach you how to take care of yourself and your new organ.
Your body’s immune system will naturally treat your new transplant as a foreign object and create antibodies against the new organ. To prevent organ rejection, your physician will prescribe special medicines to suppress your immune system while your body gets used to the new transplant. In addition, you may need to take anti-rejection medications to prevent your body from rejecting the new organ.
Medicines that suppress the immune system make you more susceptible to infections, so it’s important to follow your physician’s orders for staying healthy and avoiding illnesses. During the first few months following surgery, you will make frequent visits to see your physician for follow up tests and to check your progress.
A Healthy Lifestyle
After a successful transplant you may feel like you have a whole new life ahead. Now is the perfect time to dedicate yourself to healthy lifestyle choices, including a healthy diet, not smoking and avoiding alcohol. Not only will you feel better, but a healthy lifestyle will aide in your recovery and help you keep your new transplant organ for a long, full life.
Don’t forget, also, to get plenty of rest and follow your doctors' instructions about medicines and checkups.
Finally receiving an organ transplant is undoubtedly joyful, but many patients experience anxiety and even depression following surgery. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, or even sad after a transplant surgery. Fears of complications, or guilt about receiving the new life saving organ can all lead to anxiety. Talk to family members, your healthcare provider or a professional counselor about your feelings. There are treatments and medications that can help relieve your stress and get you back to enjoying this brand new life.
Learn more about the transplant services at Indiana University Healthy by clicking here.