The road to transplantation can be long and full of challenges, but your journey doesn’t end the day you receive your transplant. In fact, your new life is just beginning. The post-transplant process of keeping your new organ healthy and viable is just as important as that initial decision to move forward with surgery. Try to view your ongoing care as an opportunity to invest in your health and well-being, rather than seeing it as a burden. Here are some milestones to expect after you have received your organ transplant.
Periodic Lab Tests and Medication Adjustments
From the moment you’re transplanted, you will begin a medication regimen that will last the rest of your life. Taking your medications on time and at the proper dosage is critically important. Your transplant center will monitor your medication levels with periodic blood draws and will let you know if adjustments are needed. In the immediate days following your surgery, you can expect blood draws often, even once or more per day. As the days and weeks go by, these blood draws will become less frequent, but your transplant center or local doctor will always be keeping an eye on your medication levels and the function of your new organ. Some of our patients tell us that the person who draws their blood becomes a good friend because they see them more than anyone!
Follow Up Visits to Your Transplant Center
After your transplant surgery, your transplant care team will want to see you back at the transplant center periodically to assess the function of your organ and overall health. The timing of these visits can be different at different transplant centers and dependent upon your medical condition after transplant. For most organ transplants at Mayo Clinic, we’ll ask you to visit four months and one year after your transplant, and then every year thereafter. Each of these visits is usually only a couple of days but could be more depending upon how you’re feeling and how long you’ve had your new organ.
Emergent Follow Up Visits
As a post-transplant patient, you’ll soon find out that your medical issues don’t always comply with your schedule. Often times, you might need to see a doctor in between the regular scheduled visits back to your transplant center. At Mayo Clinic, we’re always willing to see you any time you need us; however, we also understand that many of our patients are from far away and would rather not hop a plane every time they’re sick. We encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to establish care with a local doctor once you go back home after your surgery. Many times when you’re ill, we’re able to communicate with your local doctor for lab work and treatment so you don’t have to travel to see us, especially if your illness is common or not directly related to your organ transplant.
Communication with Your Nurse Coordinator
If you receive your transplant at Mayo Clinic, post-transplant RN care coordinators are available to you by phone and via patient online services. In between your visits to the transplant center, your nurse coordinator or one of their colleagues can assist you with questions regarding illness, medications and new symptoms. If your transplant team is not Mayo Clinic, be sure you have a communication plan set up with them.
Mayo Clinic physicians monitor patients closely so that each patient gets the care he or she needs when it's needed. This approach ensures the success of the transplant in collaboration with you and your local physician. Your ongoing health after transplant is very important to us, and to your family and friends. Making those follow-up visits and communications back to your transplant center can be an important part of keeping your organ healthy so you can live a long and happy life.
If you are a post-transplant patient, did anything surprise you about your post-transplant care?