Finally, your family member is getting his or her organ and a second chance at life! Transplant surgery can be very exciting because the wait is over and life can restart. You may be able to go back to work or begin doing what you used to enjoy; the patient can be normal again, and live a long, happy, healthy life. All of this can be true, but the surgery and recovery are very important, and sometimes, the most difficult part of the transplant process.
During the transplant surgery stage, the patient can be hospitalized for anywhere between five days to 14 days, without complications. If there is a complication during surgery, the patient then may be required to stay in the hospital longer than expected. At this time, you may physically not want to leave the patient’s side, but you may also have to take care of the rest of your family or continue to work. It can be very stressful for a caregiver to balance his or her life with the patient’s transplant recovery.
It is important for a caregiver to remember that taking personal time is essential, because chronic stress can build up and potentially cause medical and emotional issues, which could limit the caregiver’s ability to be a good caregiver. Leaving the hospital for an hour a day, or taking an hour a day to do something enjoyable, can make a positive difference while dealing with the stress of hospitalization. Don’t forget that there are many transplant team members available if you have any concerns.
Transplant recipients may feel guilty about receiving their gift of life. Donor mom Joan talks about why transplant patients should not feel guilty about receiving an organ from an organ donor.