The Transplant Journey

We organ transplant survivors, regardless which organ, have many things in common. While in dire need of a donor organ and extremely ill, we all have been fortunate to remain healthy enough to be accepted for transplant, We have been fortunate enough to have a generous donor provide us an organ before it was too late for us. We are fortunate to benefit from years of medical scientific development and research and our physicians' expert medical training and dedication that has made organ transplantation a viable solution to our critical medical problems. Some of us believe that God has intervened on our behalf and feel very blessed.. Personally I believe that we humans have creative intelligence, abundant resources, and unique skills which when employed cooperatively by a skilled medical team make it possible for us to be here today, I don't know about divine intervention playing any part. What I do believe is that my vigilant determination, my very positive expectations and dedicated medical caretakers are enough explanation for why I am still here after 10 years of heart failure and 18 years post heart transplant.

We are all on our own journey at the end of the day. What has worked for me has been a very positive attitude about improving my health and strength each and everyday. Along with that I work to get better at various endeavors that I enjoy, but in a relaxed time frame that avoids stress and fulfills my life. I have followed The Zone Nutrition Program that was developed by Barry Sears, PhD for the past 18 years. I always tried to eat healthfully. The Zone Diet, as some may know, is basically a balanced diet that particularly stresses avoidance of trans fats and excess high glycemic carbohydrates and the inclusion of more Omega 3 fats from wild ocean seafood and grass fed livestock to restore an ideal ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fats in ones diet which has become too high in Omega 6 fats. This is a low fat protein moderate anti-inflammatory diet. Of course I also try to get plenty of anti-oxidants in my diet via organic fruits and vegetables and through supplementation. I have personally had no problems with vitamins and mineral supplements but I do avoid excess sodium and potassium (moderate kidney dysfunction). Taking transplant doctor prescribed slow release Niacin (Niaspan) did elevate my liver enzymes and make me noticeably ill. I think taking relatively high amounts of vitamin D3 daily to get my levels of D25 above 50 is most important and responsible for why I rarely catch infections. I am also fortunate to do well on a low dosage of anti-rejection regime. Being medically compliant is essential for a good outcome and good doctor-patient relations..(If you become labeled as being medically non-compliant by your transplant team you may find yourself rejected from future transplant care should you need it.)  Your doctors know about some dangerous drug-supplement interactions. That said you know your own body better then anyone so when you start to feel badly lay off anything that may be suspect and call your transplant coordinator! Live life to the fullest and fear not. You have already been through hell and you survived.

These are my experience based observations and opinion. Our experiences are adding to the base of knowledge for what works for ourselves and possibly for others. Try to learn as much as you can about your own care so you can be a great partner in your care. You only have yourself to care for. Your medical team have so many.  I hope sharing my thoughts can be of benefit.

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  • As a grandparent of a 2 year old who is 1 year out, I find it very interesting to hear you talk about diet.  At this point in time my granddaughter is underweight and her parents have been told that calories are important.  I wonder if she might develop bad eating habits as a result and limit her life expectancy.

  • Rise, you put it so much more succinctly and eloquently than I!

  • Rise, this is also my philosophy on life. The human race has all the tools and resources we need to have a great world if we all could work together for the common good doing what interests us while we are at it. Unfortunately too often we let ideological, social and cultural differences and those who would exploit those differences for selfish motives lead us down the path of division and conflict. We need to conserve and share our planet's resources which nurture and provide for us more intelligently and equitably.
  • Thank you Alan for sharing your thoughts. This is a wonderful and uplifting view on transplant life. I am going to add tags for others to find this while surfing the internet.

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My dear Friend Susy - a double lung transplant survivor is in need of a Kidney Angel (O positive blood type).  If you can be Susy's Hero- contact her at Thank You So Much!