What To Do While You’re on the Waitlist

After a potential transplant patient goes through the process of finding the right transplant hospital, several medical evaluations, and the placement onto the national waiting list, there is an entirely new battle for the patient to go up against: the wait. According to the Gift of Life Donor Program & The Cleveland Clinic, the average median wait time to transplant a lung is 4 – 6 months, but this does not mean it takes just 6 months for everybody. Depending on the various blood types and tissues, it can take over a year to find the right match, if ever. Because of this long period of wait, there are a few things that become necessary to maintain the well-being of the patient.

  1. Remain in Contact – Throughout the waiting period, communication between the hospital’s transplant team and the patient will become a patient’s lifeline. Transplant specialists, nurse practitioners, and physicians will provide guidance and care for the patient to monitor their overall health. The hospital’s transplant coordinators will help ensure that a patient is readily available to reach the hospital within several hours after receiving the news that they have found a match.
  2. Maintain Personal Health – It is important for the patient to remain physically fit and relatively active during their time on the waitlist. Following a schedule of exercise and a healthy diet, as directed by a physician, will help lessen the recovery time post-transplant and make it easier for the patient to return to regular, daily activities.
  3. Find Support – Being on the transplant waitlist can be one of the most stressful and emotional times in a patient’s life. Start to develop a strong support group of friends, family, coworkers, and professionals. Various sorts of counseling are readily available for patients and their family members to help reduce the amount of stress they may be taking on.
  4. Educate Yourself – Educating oneself can serve as an outlet to not only better understand the entire transplant process, but to reduce the mental stress that may come on from “the unknown” of when a patient may find a match. Join support groups, either online or in-person, with people who are going through similar waitlist tasks and situations to better understand the transplantation “do’s and don’ts.”
  5. Organization – There are plenty of moving parts during the waiting period that will require the patient to develop strong organizational habits and daily routines. Transplant teams and physicians may help provide schedules of various activities, appointments, medical testings, and rehabilitation routines that the patient will want to follow to ensure a healthy pre-transplantation through post-transplantation recovery process. Keep a planner, calendar, and set daily reminders to stay on top of all of these various tasks.

Like we said before, the average median waitlist to transplantation is 4 – 6 months; but not all those on the waitlist may find themselves amongst the average. The time spent on the transplantation waitlist can mean life or death for a patient. Learn more about how you can help shorten the waitlist period at http://www.lungtransplantproject.org/.

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