Preventing rejection, restored health, lifestyle changes, medications, new lease on life – all are part of life after transplant. It’s important to note, however, that everyone’s transplant journey looks a bit different, it’s completely unique to them.
Let’s start by breaking down some common phrases and definitions associated with transplant.
Preventing Rejection: A word often heard from transplant recipients and in the transplant world is “rejection.” According to UNOS, rejection is when the organ recipient’s immune system recognizes the donor organ as foreign and attempts to eliminate it. As scary as this can sound, some degree of rejection is associated with every transplant. How the body takes to the new organ, is again – unique to the recipient and their body. It’s important for transplant recipients to listen to their body, work with their transplant team and call their doctor if they experience any symptoms associated with rejection. Symptoms list and more information on transplant rejection can be found here.
Transplant Team: These are the folks that will help recipients through the stages of their transplant, during and after. From the transplant surgeon to the transplant doctor, medical care team and more, all are there to help the recipient get the transplant they need and teach them how to best care for their precious gift. Get to know the members of a transplant team.
Lifestyle Changes: Remember, getting a transplant is major surgery and on top of recovery time, there will need to be continued care for the gift the recipient has received. Changing some habits is a necessity for transplant recipients. This could mean, changing their diet, drinking more water, giving up alcohol, taking certain medication, and/or regularly meeting with members of their transplant team. It could also mean eventually returning to the activities recipients once enjoyed before they were sick; hiking, skiing, swimming, running, etc. The changes will look different for everyone and as always, recipients should discuss this with their transplant doctor. Dive deeper in possible lifestyle changes after transplant, here.
Local Transplant Recipient Story:
To get a better glimpse into what life after transplant looks like, we sat down with Donor Alliance Advocate for Life and liver recipient, Scott Pinkney, from Northglenn, CO. Scott received his gift in 2011 after waiting for two years and unknowingly living with hepatitis C for 30 years. Listen to his touching story:
“It’s a selfless gift which, saves lives. I’m here to tell you, it saves lives and it saved mine,” said Pinkney. Remember, you can be a hero to people like Scott who need a lifesaving transplant. Just visit DonateLifeColorado.org or DonateLifeWyoming.org to sign up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor.
You can also learn more about what life after transplant is like by visiting the UNOS website.