What should I be doing while I wait for a donor?
Waiting for a donor organ can be a stressful experience, especially because the amount of time you'll have to wait is unknown. Regardless, there are important steps transplant candidates can take to ensure they are ready for surgery when the important call comes. Sometimes it is necessary to help the heart while waiting for an organ transplant. In those cases, a patient may need to undergo a heart-pump surgery, also known as a Left-Ventricular Assist Device implantation.
- Take care of your health. Try to stay as healthy as possible and take your medicines as they are prescribed. Notify your transplant coordinator if any additional medicines are prescribed or altered or if you are hospitalized for any reason.
- Keep your scheduled appointments with your physicians. Until your transplant, you will need to meet with members of the transplant team to routinely evaluate your overall health.
- Participate in support groups. Ask your social worker about support groups and other resources, so you'll have access to more information and can talk with other transplant candidates.
- Follow the dietary and exercise guidelines. Weight management is very important while waiting for your transplant. A dietitian and physical therapist can work with you to plan and develop a diet and exercise program that will give you the greatest benefit before and after transplantation.
- Occupy yourself by staying involved. Spend time doing what you enjoy and stay as active as your physical condition will permit. Keep up with your work, studies and leisure activities, or start a project or hobby that can help distract you and make time pass more quickly.
- Maintain contact with family and friends. Good company will take your mind off of waiting and enrich your life.
- Just relax. Reading or listening to music or relaxation tapes can be helpful in taking your mind off your transplant surgery and avoiding negative thoughts.
- Make sure you are available. It is VERY IMPORTANT for your transplant team to know how to get in touch with you at all times. Pagers, cell phones or remote answering machines may be required by your transplant center. Your transplant coordinator may recommend that you stay within a certain geographic range.
- Be prepared with transportation. When you are placed on the organ waiting list, your first responsibility is to plan how to get to the transplant center as soon as you are notified that an organ is available. Prepare yourself for this call by making the necessary arrangements for transportation well in advance.
- Be prepared by packing your bags in advance. You'll need to be ready to leave as soon as you get the call that a donor organ is available. Be sure to take your insurance information, an extra 24-hour supply of medication and all other necessities.