LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE WITH A TRANSPLANT
“Organ donation is not a tragedy but it can be a beautiful light in the midst of one”, ~BecauseIcanproject.com
“Without the organ donor, there is no story, no hope, no transplant. But when there is an organ donor, life springs from death, sorrow turns to hope and a terrible loss becomes a gift,” ~Uno
Wendy Jenkins from Australia, tells us what it’s like to go through the stages of transplants. You may think it’s not a difficult journey but it really isn’t!!
A lung transplant is a surgical procedure to replace a diseased or failing lung with a healthy lung, usually from a deceased donor. A lung transplant is reserved for people who have tried other medications or treatments, but their conditions haven’t sufficiently improved.
Depending on your medical condition, a lung transplant may involve replacing one of your lungs or both of them. In some situations, the lungs may be transplanted along with a donor heart.
While a lung transplant is a major operation that can involve many complications, it can greatly improve your health and quality of life.
When faced with a decision about having a lung transplant, know what to expect of the lung transplant process, the surgery itself, potential risks and follow-up care. ~ https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/lung-transplant/about/pac-20384754#:~:text=During%20a%20lung%20transplant%2C%20surgeons,usually%20from%20a%20deceased%20donor.
So, here is the Mayo Clinic describing more of the reasons for a Lung Transplant – https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/lung-transplant/about/pac-20384754
Why it’s done
Unhealthy or damaged lungs can make it difficult for your body to get the oxygen it needs to survive. A variety of diseases and conditions can damage your lungs and hinder their ability to function effectively. Some of the more common causes include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema
- Scarring of the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis)
- High blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
- Cystic fibrosis
Lung damage can often be treated with medication or with special breathing devices. But when these measures no longer help or your lung function becomes life-threatening, your doctor might suggest a single-lung transplant or a double-lung transplant.
Some people with coronary artery disease may need a procedure to restore blood flow to a blocked or narrowed artery in the heart, in addition to a lung transplant. In some cases, people with serious heart and lung conditions may need a combined heart-lung transplant.
Factors that may affect your eligibility for a lung transplant
A lung transplant isn’t the right treatment for everyone. Certain factors may mean you’re not a good candidate for a lung transplant. While each case is considered individually by a transplant center, a lung transplant may not be appropriate if you:
- Have an active infection
- Have a recent personal medical history of cancer
- Have serious diseases such as kidney, liver or heart diseases
- Are unwilling or unable to make lifestyle changes necessary to keep your donor lung healthy, such as not drinking alcohol or not smoking
- Do not have a supportive network of family and friends
Complications associated with a lung transplant can be serious and sometimes fatal. Major risks include rejection and infection.
Risk of rejection
Your immune system defends your body against foreign substances. Even with the best possible match between you and the donor, your immune system will try to attack and reject your new lung or lungs. The risk of rejection is highest soon after the lung transplant and is reduced over time.
Your drug regimen after transplant will include medications to suppress your immune system (immunosuppressant medications) in an effort to prevent organ rejection. You’ll likely take these anti-rejection drugs for the rest of your life.
Side effects of anti-rejection drugs
Anti-rejection drugs may cause noticeable side effects, including:
- Weight gain
- Facial hair
- Stomach problems
Some anti-rejection medications can also increase your risk of developing new conditions or aggravating existing conditions, such as:
- Kidney damage
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
ou’ll generally need to make several long-term adjustments after your lung transplant, including:
- Taking immunosuppressants. You’ll need to take immunosuppressant medications for life to suppress your immune system and prevent rejection of the donor lung or lungs.
- Managing medications, therapies and a lifelong care plan. Your doctor may give you instructions to follow after your transplant. It’s important to take all your medications as your doctor instructs, check your lung function as directed by your doctor, attend follow-up appointments and follow a lifelong care plan.It’s a good idea to set up a daily routine for taking your medications so that you won’t forget. Keep a list of all your medications with you at all times in case you need emergency medical attention, and tell all your doctors what you take each time you’re prescribed a new medicine.
- Living a healthy lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle is key to sustaining your new lung. Your doctor may advise you to not use tobacco products and to limit alcohol use. Following a nutritious diet also can help you stay healthy.Exercise is an extremely important part of rehabilitation after your lung transplant and will begin within days of your surgery. Your health care team will likely work with you to design an exercise program that’s right for you. Your doctor may recommend pulmonary rehabilitation — a program of exercise and education that may help improve your breathing and daily functioning — after your transplant.
- Emotional support. Your new medical therapies and the stress of having a lung transplant may make you feel overwhelmed. Many people who have had a lung transplant feel this way. Talk to your doctor if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Transplant centers often have support groups and other resources to help you manage your condition.
Coping and Support
It’s normal to feel anxious or overwhelmed while waiting for a transplant or to have fears about rejection, returning to work or other issues after a transplant. Seeking the support of friends and family members can help you cope during this stressful time.
Your transplant team also can assist you with other useful resources and coping strategies throughout the transplant process, such as:
- Joining a support group for transplant recipients. Talking with others who have shared your experience can ease fears and anxiety.
- Getting additional treatment. If you’re depressed, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend medications or refer you to a mental health professional.
- Finding rehabilitation services. If you’re returning to work, your social worker may be able to connect you with rehabilitation services provided by your home state’s vocational rehabilitation services.
- Setting realistic goals and expectations. Recognize that life after a transplant may not be exactly the same as life before a transplant. Having realistic expectations about results and recovery time can help reduce stress.
- Educating yourself. Read as much as you can about your procedure and ask questions about things you don’t understand. Knowledge is empowering.
I guess we could have said it’s really easy!! But believe me it’s not. There’s always one thing that affects other things, does that make sense? You fix the lungs but you still have to cope with the adjustments of both medication, feelings and emotions, and grief to the loss of the limb or organ, as well as the strength of the physical recovery.
Stay tuned for our amazing Podcast coming up on March 9th, 2021. So interesting and yet inspiring to how people cope especially during Covid 19 on the ability of getting help with a new life, a new organ!
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