At the Hospital
How can I prepare for my transplant?
While you are
waiting for your
organ transplant, you will be given a pager or
cell phone so the transplant center can contact you at any time to tell you an
organ is available. Always keep your pager with you. You may also wish to give
the transplant center several numbers where you can be reached and the name and
number of a few people who will always know how to reach you.
Arrange for someone to go with you to the transplant center when you have
the organ transplant. This person can support you, listen to your doctor, and
can help you remember important instructions from your doctor. This person can
also report any change in behaviors or symptoms that you may have either before
or shortly after the transplant. It is helpful to have someone who can be there
to check in on you during your stay in the hospital and during your recovery at
Have your suitcase packed with the things you need to take
with you to the transplant center. Your support person should also have a bag
packed and ready to go at a moment's notice. You never know when you will
receive the call that your organ is available.
What will happen at the hospital?
If you are
called to the hospital or transplant center because a donor organ has been
found, you will immediately be prepared for surgery while final tests are done
to make sure the donor organ is a good match. If it is, you will have
transplant surgery right away. If the organ is not a good match, the organ will
be given to a person who is a better match, and you will be released to go home
and continue to wait for your new organ.
If your current health
condition requires that you be hospitalized while you wait for a donor organ,
you will receive supportive and lifesaving care (such as blood pressure support
heart failure) until you are matched with a donor
organ. During that time, you may be given high doses of a
corticosteroid medicine, usually methylprednisolone,
to prepare you for the surgery and prevent rejection. High doses of
corticosteroids may cause side effects such as
high blood pressure,
high cholesterol, weight gain, sleep problems, and
anxiety. Corticosteroids can also cause more severe
side effects such as extreme agitation, paranoia, and
psychosis (trouble telling the difference between what
is real and what is not real)-some people may feel "out of it" or have
hallucinations while taking high doses of steroids.
But these side effects are temporary and will go away after you stop taking the
How long will I be hospitalized after the transplant?
Your recovery time after an organ transplant depends on how healthy you
are prior to surgery, which organ was transplanted, and whether your body
accepts the donated organ. A longer hospital stay may be needed for a heart or
lung transplant than for a kidney transplant. Some people are out of the
hospital within a few days after their transplant, while others may need to
stay for a few weeks.