You should receive information as part of your post-transplant discharge on mental well-being. Our aim here is to simply guide you to a mental focused state to engage in exercise and continue with it.

Although the trauma of undergoing a life-changing organ transplant is endured mainly by the recipient, we must not forget that the emotional stresses do not just impact the recipient but also the people around them.  Much time is spent focusing on the medical element, coping with the illness, considering and understanding the actual medical procedure and looking at the recovery and healing process but it is also important to establish good social connections and maintain healthy relationships after your transplant.

It is normal to feel elated and a sense of hope post your transplant procedure. After some time, these feelings and hope can be replaced with natural feelings of fear and worry. It is common to have concerns about organ rejection, or be concerned over the future.  Ensuring that you also address the mental wellbeing of your recovery post-surgery is equally important.

Organ transplants are a very successful therapy, and most people who get them live normal lives. But there still may be bumps during your road to recovery. For some people, those bumps can be hard to handle.

It can be very helpful to establish regular visits with a mental health care professional who can assist you to work through some of the emotions that you may be feeling so that any shame or guilt that you may be feeling can be dealt with before it effects your physical well-being.

Guilt after an Organ Transplant

Guilt is a common reaction people have after a transplant. Patients often report thinking a lot about the donor and feeling guilty about benefiting from the donor’s death.  In the same way you may feel guilt for accepting / asking for an organ from a family member or friend.  This feeling can be especially strong for people who became very ill while waiting and hoping for an organ to become available.  After the procedure, some get the feeling that they had been wishing for someone else to die.

One way people come to terms with these feelings is by focusing on the fact that for both the donor family and the recipient the transplant is one way to get a sense of meaning from a death.  That understanding, the experts say, can be a source of comfort.

For many people, getting in touch with the donor family can help.  To respect privacy, organ donation organizations do not allow you make direct contact without the donor family’s agreement, but, you can at least write a letter that your health care team can pass on to them.

Burden of Responsibility

Caring for your transplanted organ requires effort.  This can be related to the medication regiments which have to be followed, or simply the frequent medical tests or follow up appointments.  Sometimes your body may take a while to respond to the medications, and this can often lead to frustration and anxiety.  Transplant recipients often also feel a sense of responsibility for their new organ, and fear that they could do something wrong that might harm the organ or the recovery process.  These are all common feelings, and dealing with your frustration and anxiety is essential in order to try prevent a state of depression.

Family Issues

Sometimes a transplant can happen quite suddenly, and it is not always something that can be planned for. This uncertainty can result in your home life, at any moment being turned upside down. It is also very difficult to predict how you might feel after the transplant.

It is important to involve your family and friends early on in the process. For one thing, you need to keep your expectations from getting too high. It will take time to get back to normal. Not being prepared for that reality can cause disappointment and contribute towards depression or negative feelings for prolonged periods. Being honest with your loved ones and expressing your feelings and emotions are an essential part of your recovery.

Medications can also have an effect on your moods and behaviors. Sleep can become a problem area. It is incredibly important to remember that recovery is a process and that you take sleep, and getting enough rest, very seriously. While resting use the time to reflect and nurture existing relationships as you will rely on these support systems continuously.

Getting Help After Organ Transplantation

As you adjust to your new organ, some of these feelings may bother you less. Part of living with a transplant is accepting uncertainty.

Experts say it’s important to stay optimistic while at the same time accepting that it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen and what the future may hold for you.

But while living with some uncertainty is necessary, you should never accept depression or constant anxiety as inevitable. If you feel that you’re becoming depressed or chronically anxious, talk to your health care provider and seek help. There is no shame in admitting that you cannot go it alone.

Many people find that support groups can make a big difference. In everyday life, you don’t run into many people who have had a transplant. By joining a support group, you get to talk to people who are going through the same things that you are. Just meeting people in your position can make a big difference. Knowing that others are going through the same experience and that others have experienced failures and successes can give you a very healthy perspective.

Register for free to gain access to the Refit for Life! Program designed to help you move right, think right and eat right.