If you are in need of a heart, lung, liver, kidney, intestinal, or living donor transplant, the journey can be complex. For that reason, transplant caregivers are essential for those preparing for a transplant evaluation. In fact, you can’t move forward in the pretransplant evaluation before identifying a caregiver or team of caregivers.
The caregiver role is an essential part of the transplant journey. It’s crucial that you know the responsibilities of a transplant caregiver so you can find the right person for the job.
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Why You Need a Transplant Caregiver
Doctors must follow certain procedures to determine if you are a good candidate for a transplant. Doctors will only recommend a transplant if other treatments have failed or been ineffective. Then, they must determine if you are healthy enough for the surgery and postoperative treatments.
Your caregiver will need to help you before, during, and after the transplant. People on the transplant waiting list often have to wait weeks to months before healthy donated organs become available. This waiting period can be stressful, but it is a key reason why a support network is important. A transplant caregiver can lighten your load when you are waiting for a transplant.
After your transplant, you first will go to intensive care so nurses can closely monitor your immediate response to your new organ. Once you are discharged from the hospital, your caregiver will need to be available to you 24 hours a day. Because you will still be recovering from your transplant, it’s important not to push yourself too much.
These are just a few reasons why you must have a caregiver identified before beginning the transplant journey.
Transplant Caregiver Responsibilities
If you are on the waiting list for an organ transplant, you undoubtedly have a lot on your mind. A transplant caregiver can help support you and ease your stress.
Before the transplant, your caregiver will need to:
- Accompany you to all scheduled appointments during the weeklong outpatient transplant evaluation.
- Meet with the transplant team to understand the transplant process.
- Participate in the pretransplant education class.
- Provide transportation to and from all appointments.
Following your discharge from the hospital and for two to three months afterward, your caregiver will need to:
- Be near you 24 hours a day.
- Remain within one hour driving distance of UPMC.
Your caregiver will be your key support person throughout your transplant journey. That is why it is important for that person to learn all the steps in the transplant process. That way, they understand the critical role they play in your recovery.
Who Can Be a Transplant Caregiver?
The role of transplant caregiving can be highly involved. It’s important that you choose someone you can trust to help you on your transplant journey. Some people to consider are:
- Close friend.
- Your adult children.
- Anyone else who wants to help you.
Remember that the caregiver role is a time-intensive job. It will require knowledge and understanding of the transplant process and procedure.
If you need to find a caregiver, start by asking close family members or friends. Be sure to tell them your story and why you need this help. But also inform them of the expectations of being a transplant caregiver.
If your caregivers change during the transplant process, you should immediately inform your transplant care team.
For more information about being a caregiver or about organ transplant, please visit the UPMC Transplant Services website.
About Transplant Services
For more than four decades, UPMC Transplant Services has been a leader in organ transplantation. Our clinicians have performed more than 20,000 organ transplant procedures, making UPMC one of the foremost organ transplant centers in the world. We are home to some of the world’s foremost transplant experts and take on some of the most challenging cases. Through research, we have developed new therapies that provide our patients better outcomes — so organ recipients can enjoy better health with fewer restrictions. Above all, we are committed to providing compassionate, complete care that can change – and save – our patients’ lives. Visit our website to find a provider near you.