Each patient is required by the Transplant Center to have a support person. Patients with good social support tend to have better outcomes after transplant than those without social support.
A support person is a relative or friend who is committed to helping the transplant candidate throughout the workup process, waiting period and in the months following transplant. Patients are encouraged to have a back up support person(s) in case the primary support person is unavailable due to illness or other circumstances.
Many patients dealing with end stage liver disease who are considering transplant are under a high amount of stress both emotionally and physically as they are dealing with the varied signs and symptoms of their disease. A support person is expected to assist the patient in coping with their disease.
The role of the support person(s) prior to transplant:
- Attend appointments as required by the Transplant Center
- Join in learning about transplantation
- Provide emotional support throughout the evaluation and waiting period once on the list
- Assist in the management of the patient while waiting for the transplant (medications, appointments, etc. when patient is unable)
- Assist the patient in keeping in contact with the transplant center about the patient's health status
- Encourage healthy diet and staying active to prevent the patient from becoming debilitated
- Accompany the patient to the hospital when called in for the transplant
The recovery of the post-operative transplant patient can be a long process and many patients require assistance while learning how to care for their new organ. Some patients may experience post-operative complications where having a caring support person can make a difference in the emotional well-being of the patient and can assist them in coping with the challenges of transplant.
The role of the support person(s) after transplant:
- Remain committed to providing support and encouragement to the patient throughout the hospital stay to assist in their recovery
- Assist in learning about post-transplant medications and medication schedule
- Assist in learning about prevention and identification of infections and rejection
- Provide assistance at home after discharge from the hospital
- Assist patient in learning home medication management as medication changes may be frequent in the first six months after transplant
- Encourage healthy diet and exercise
- Accompany the patient to their frequent post-operative visits to the transplant center
- Ensure patient follows their lab and clinic schedule
When deciding whom to choose for your support person(s), consider the following:
- Minimum age of 18
- Must have a driver's license and access to a reliable car
- Must be available to accompany patient to evaluation appointments as required
- Must be able to assist the patient at the time of transplant
- Must have no active substance abuse issues (no illicit drugs or alcohol)
- Should not drink alcohol or smoke in the presence of the patient
- Must be mentally, physically and emotionally stable