Following lung transplantation, patients can anticipate the return to a normal, more routine lifestyle. One must, however, receive routine, age-appropriate medical check-ups including annual cancer screening. Prevention of illness is the key to a healthy life, and check-ups are vital to preventing illness.
Your Primary Care Doctor's Role after Lung Transplantation
The physician responsible for your care before you came for a transplant, or the doctor who referred you to us, will continue to monitor your health after your transplant. We recommend that you receive primary care for the first three months after your transplant at our center. You should also continue to see any specialists who were involved in your care before you received the transplant. This includes the pulmonologist, cardiologist, gynecologist, and the gastroenterologist.
And remember to inform the transplant office of any changes in your local doctor's name, address, or phone number(s).
It is important to have annual vision check-ups with an ophthalmologist. The immunosuppressant prednisone can cause cataract and initiate changes in your vision. You should schedule your first postoperative ophthalmology exam at six months.
Because of your skin's enhanced sensitivity, it is important that you see a dermatologist on an annual basis for skin cancer screening. Any suspicious moles should be biopsied and removed promptly.
Immunizations and Vaccinations
Patients are encouraged to get all appropriate vaccinations prior to transplantation. After transplant, annual flu shots are recommended after 1 year. If additional inoculations are necessary, you should only receive "dead virus" vaccinations. You may not receive "live virus" vaccines such as varicella, or MMR, because of risk of transmission.
Your transplant team may be able to recommend a pharmacy that will send all your monthly medications directly to your home. The insurance company who issues your drug plan will have to pre-approve the use of such service.
Many medications will interact with your immunosuppressants; for this reason, you must always consult with the transplant team prior to taking any new medications, or altering the dosage of the immunosuppressants and other medicines we have prescribed.
Emergency Medical Identification
Following transplant, you should wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace at all times. Your nurse can provide an order form for this essential and life-saving jewelry. Indicate on the form that you have had a lung transplant, are "immunosuppressed," and have our 24-hour number, 212.305.7771, included on the tag. You may want to include your local doctor's phone number also.
Psychological Health after Lung Transplantation
Now that you have had your lung transplant, our goal is to help you enjoy a full and satisfying life. A serious illness such as you have experienced can create many personal and family stresses. To help you and your family make any necessary adjustments, we have a social worker and psychiatrist available for consultation. They are available when you are in the hospital, or in the clinic to help you with concerns that arise after your transplant.
Our transplant team can help you with: job planning or rehabilitation; family stresses, such as parent-child conflicts, marital conflict, and changes in sexual functioning; and financial concerns, such as questions about Medicare, disability and insurance.
Your social worker will evaluate your needs, refer you to an agency in your home community, or provide direct counseling if circumstances and distance permit. You may be able to resolve many questions by talking with one of them. If you need specialized counseling, we will help you find appropriate alternatives.