Outpatient Care and Monitoring
Post-transplant success depends on your ability to take multiple medications daily (up to 40 pills a day), and the ability to maintain a rigorous follow-up schedule, especially early post-transplant. Exercise and a healthy diet are also keys to success.
Patients also undergo frequent pulmonary function tests and bronchoscopies with lung biopsies to determine if there is any infection or rejection.
Some degree of rejection during the post-transplant period is normal and somewhat expected. Adjustment of medications may be made and/or IV medications used to treat the rejection. Rejection is very treatable if detected early. This is the reasoning behind frequent biopsies. You will be taking multiple medications, some of which are immunosuppressant medications which prevent the body from rejecting the lungs. These medications are needed for life.
Stoppage of these medications would lead to death.
After clearance by your doctor, you may return to work, depending on your circumstances. You will still be followed and evaluated by our transplant team; your transplant coordinator will be an important part of your recovery.
Be aware that you will experience up and down days. Transplant is not a “cure” and has its own set of challenges. However, a lung transplant generally allows you to increase the quality of your life and extend your life by many years.
When you’re in the hospital, you are given a binder with important educational information, including medication check lists, vital sign monitoring sheets, and your first month of scheduled appointments. You will be seen twice weekly the first month, once weekly the second month, every other week the third month and once monthly for the rest of the first year.
Throughout the year, you will have lab work done twice weekly until your body adjusts to the immunosuppressant drug levels. After that, lab work is done less frequently, however, monthly lab work will need to be done for the rest of your life. In addition, surveillance bronchoscopies are scheduled once monthly for the first six months, then every other month up to the first year. Subsequent years require less frequent appointments, however, you may require more visits or interventions depending on your situation.
Communication with the referring physician occurs at the beginning and end of each hospitalization, as well as with each outpatient clinic visit. Follow-up between your community physician and the transplant physician overseeing post-transplant care is encouraged at all times. Because of the potential for interactions of other medications with immunosuppressives, please check with the post-transplant office prior to filling any prescription.
Extensive patient records are maintained by the post-transplant office in electronic format indefinitely. All clinical information and follow-up is maintained in a transplant database. These electronically stored records are accessible by all members of the transplant team in multiple locations. Because your information is immediately available, it helps our transplant team manage your care at the highest level.
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