Facing the challenges of organ transplant is emotional. Whether you are the patient or a loved one looking for a transplant program, the task can seem insurmountable. Every transplant center has an extensive team of medical professionals that work together before, during and after a patient receives an organ replacement. It is imperative that patients and their families have a general idea of what to expect as the process progresses.
A team of doctors and care givers is necessary because our organs are not independent from the rest of our body. The human body is wonderfully and intricately connected, like the children's song says, "the foot bone is connected to the leg bone," and in a healthy individual all of our body organs work in a perfect rhythm. Patients that have a failing organ normally have negative conditions in other organs as well.
In order to identify patients who will be good candidates for transplant surgeries, lots of exhausting and extensive testing has to be completed. Depending on the patient's circumstances, there will be many x-rays, MRI's, CAT scans and blood tests performed to diagnose the organ failure. In order to confirm and refine the diagnosis, many tests will have to be repeated and patients should seek a second opinion from specialists.
Unfortunately there are thousands of people with failing organs, but there are not enough healthy organs available. This means candidates will be screened on several factors before acceptance into whichever transplant programs they'll need to be a part of. Their general overall health, financial circumstances and motivation are all evaluated. To be blunt, physicians do not want to "waste" a healthy kidney on a non-compliant diabetic. If patients are not willing to take medication, show up for appointments on time or they have a poor attitude they may be refused access to a program.
Once a patient is accepted into a medically approved program, he will be introduced to his medical coordinator and the supporting team member. The team will naturally include transplant surgeons; some other professionals are listed below.
1. Infectious disease specialists: These specialists will monitor patients after the transplant for any infections that are possible.
2. Psychiatrists: Provide counseling to assist patients with the emotional aspects of transplant procedures and coping skills.
3. Nurse coordinators: Help with medication, scheduling appointments and patient education.
4. Immunologists: Develop plans to prevent rejection.
5. Pharmacists: Assist with inpatient and outpatient medications. Starting before surgery, medication will be a life-long daily necessity.
6. Social workers and Financial services personnel: Even though many insurance companies will pay the bulk of the transplant process, the patient will still have a lot of expenses to deal with. These people find ways to help patients to afford the surgery as well as support costs after the surgery is completed
A successful team approach in transplant programs revolve around constant communication between the patient and the team of specialists. The team should be supportive from the start of the relationship and make it a priority from the beginning to keep the patient informed through every step of their transplant program.