Congratulations! You have completed your transplant. Now your recovery can begin.
Although coming home from the transplant center is an important milestone, several months of recovery lie ahead. There may be some setbacks along the way, but this is normal. Everyone recovers at their own pace, so it is best not to judge your progress by how quickly others recover.
Until your immune system begins functioning normally, you will be at risk of developing a serious infection which may be difficult to treat. Our section on preparing your home for your return gives you some guidelines on cleaning your home so that the risk of infection is minimized. Our section on infection explains additional precautions you need to take to prevent infection during your recovery period.
During the first year after transplant, you will probably be more fatigued than normal, and may have to adjust your activities to work around this. Our section on managing fatigue gives you tips that can help.
If you were transplanted with cells from a donor, you may develop a complication called graftHealthy blood forming stem cells used to replace a patient's diseased blood forming stem cells-versus-host disease (GVHDGraft-versus-Host-Disease. A disease caused when the donor's stem cells (the graft) attack the normal tissue of the transplant patient. Also called GVHD.). Our graft-versus-host disease section explains the different forms of this disease and how it is treated.
Some patients experience changes in the way they process information after transplant. This usually becomes less of a problem over time. Our section on learning and memory difficulties offers suggestions on how to adapt to these changes.
The recovery period can be emotionally taxing for both the patient and the entire family. Friends and extended family members may be less supportive once you leave the hospital. Our section on meeting emotional needs discusses some of the common emotions experienced after transplant and ways to cope.
Transplants and long term care are expensive. We have developed a section on dealing with financial issues including resources that will help with medical expenses and links to organizations that offer scholarships.
We've also included a section on sexuality after transplant. Returning to a healthy sex life can be difficult physically and emotionally, but we will give you some tips that will guide you back.
If you plan on starting or adding to your family after transplant, our section on having children after transplant will explain some of your options.
Children face some unique issues after transplant. Topics such as growth, fertility and learning challenges are discussed in the pediatric issues section.
Young adults also face special challenges. They and their peers have had different life experiences while the patient was going through transplant, and their values and concerns may differ afterward. We have developed some resouces for young adults to help them as they adjust to their life after transplant.
Remember, your relationship with your transplant is a life long responsibility and we have provided some advice on protecting your long term health. It's important that all of your doctors, for the rest of your life, know about your transplant history and monitor you for long-term complications.
The good news is that most long-term survivors who have been studied report a good quality of life. In factFoundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy, a 1995 study showed that 74 percent of survivors reported that their quality of life was as good or better than it was pre-transplant.
Your life after a transplant is just beginning.