Transplant and Pulmonary Hypertension

2 women sharing a hug

The Emotional Impact of Listing

The process of becoming listed as a lung transplant candidate and the ensuing wait period can be an extremely stressful time for both the patient and those who care for him or her. A range of emotions and behavioral manifestations of these emotions may come with the listing and waiting process. It is important to be open about your feelings and have someone to talk about them with.

Keep in mind that it is normal to be stressed at this time: the battery of tests to get listed, the financial aspects of transplant, the possibility of relocation and, in some cases, false alarms for donor organs are all stress-inducing. Other emotions that are common in transplant candidates include anxiety and frustration at having to wait or guilt that the donated organ will come from a deceased donor. Again, all of these feelings (and many more) are normal and are perfectly OK to feel, but it is important to develop positive coping skills to get through this difficult time.

While you are waiting, a few things to keep in mind:

  • Organ donation and transplant are consistent with most major religious denominations in the U.S. If you are having misgivings for religious reasons, speak with a spiritual leader.
  • Organs do not have memory. Contrary to what some people believe, personality traits cannot be transferred from donor to recipient during organ transplantation.
  • There are positive aspects to waiting; this period provides time for reflection and preparation for your life post-transplant.

There are many resources and different approaches to help deal with the broad range of emotions that transplant candidates feel. The United Network for Organ Sharing provides a state-by-state support group list for organ recipients. Your transplant center may also provide emotional support or be able to connect you with a support group in your area.

In addition to attending a support group, other helpful approaches include:

  • Develop a new hobby
  • Add structure to your daily life
  • Talk through your feelings and emotions
  • Breathe
  • Pray
  • Set goals for the future
  • Engage in regular exercise
  • Maintain contact with friends and family
  • Use relaxation techniques such as meditation, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga
  • Ask your doctor to recommend a prescription or over-the-counter medication to treat anxiety