Important things to know during your recovery.
After the transplant you may be left overwhelmed and wondering what happens next. Although you have gone through the hardest part of the process, it’s certainly not over and there are a lot of things you will need to think about.
Below we have listed some of the most important aspects to your recovery. But as a disclaimer, this isn’t as detailed as the booklets you will be provided. Treat this as a reminder of what the main points of your recovery are.
The immune system
After your transplant the immune system will treat your new organ as a threat to the rest of the body. As the new organ is still a foreign object to the body it will want to attack the organ and you will end up with something we call ‘rejection’. Rejection can happy at any point after your transplant but it is a lot more likely to happen the first few weeks after the transplant while the new organ settles into your body.
We prevent rejection by giving you anti-rejection drugs. This makes the immune system weaker and it will stop producing antibodies that will attack the organ. However this will mean that you will live with a weaker immune system than most other people leaving you at risk to catching deadly infections. We work to prevent this happening by giving you a routine to follow to keep the utmost hygiene to prevent you catching any bad bacteria.
Rejection can be fatal unless it is controlled. So it is important that if you are having these symptoms to contact the transplant ward straight away. Even if it is a minor symptom, it’s better to be safe and have the symptom checked out.
Your prescriptions are vital for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle after the transplant. It is important that you take the correct drugs on time everyday. Unfortunately, transplants aren’t considered as a need for a medical exemption so you will still need to pay for prescriptions. However you may qualify for a discount by making an application through your GP for a FP92A form.
When you leave the hospital you will be given two weeks worth of prescriptions to set you up. After this, it is your responsibility to arrange your repeat prescription and collect it in time for you to continue taking your course of drugs.
Physiotherapy is important during your initial recovery and it is encouraged to be continued throughout your life with your new transplant. Keeping your chest healthy in the first few days of recovery will consist with you having appointments witha physiotherapist at various points through the day. After a general anaesthetic, sputum production is increased. you need to be able to cough the sputum up to get rid of it or it may become infected. It is important to have regular chest physiotherapy in order to stretch out your lungs and loosen up any mucus that may be left in there.
The physiotherapy treatment will be made up of a routine of light stretches and exercises to help clear your lungs, to also help clear your lungs we will offer you postural draining and lessons of good breathing control. Usually this will happen over the first two weeks post transplant.Once all the mucus has lifted from your lungs this treatment will stop and your lungs will be fully expanded. You will also find yourself able to breath easier once the mucus has left your body.
Exercise will now be a very important aspect of your life. Your new heart needs to be kept in excellent health which means 2 and a half hours of moderate exercise a week is mandatory. You are also encouraged to take walks and part take in activities that will keep you active and on your feet.
Cardiovascular exercise is highly encouraged as it will help keep your heart strong and healthy. Your heart is the most important muscle in your body and it needs to be kept fit and healthy to keep the blood pumping and good circulation.
Exercise and diet go hand in hand with keeping your body fit and healthy. With a transplant this statement is even more important. It is vital that you keep a healthy diet so that you don’t become overweight and put anymore stress on your heart. If you are currently classed as underweight or overweight, Heartwood can help you meal plan and get the right exercise that can get you to the right weight for your body type.
Eating a wide range of vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts and seeds can help give you proteins that will nourish your heart and help make it stronger. However, it is also important to be aware of cleaning your food before eating and avoid eating raw fish, eggs or meat. Your anti rejection drugs make you more susceptible to the bacteria found on unwashed foods or raw meats.
Vaccines not allowed:
After your transplant live vaccinations should not be given to you, this could compromise your immune system and make you very sick. If you going abroad to a country where you will need a vaccination please contact the transplant clinic and discuss with your transplant team.
Leisure activities are encouraged after a full recovery from the transplant. Specifically ones that give you an opportunity to get a bit of extra exercise into your daily routine. Joining the gym and going swimming are allowed after 3 months of recovery.
We highly suggest you do not use sun beds as you are at a higher rick of cancer due to your anti rejection drugs. It is also not a good idea to use a sauna as it may drastically raise your blood pressure.
When to contact the clinic
You MUST contact the clinic if you find yourself in any of the listed situations: