The need for this type of housing for transplant recipients and their families is in great demand and growing every day. Just a little over 35,000 transplants happen in the United States each year. More than 100,000 patients are on the waiting list annually and those who do receive the gift of life are in a small percent of the population. To make matters scarcer, only 4% of medical centers in the United States have an organ transplant program. Thankfully, here in Michigan there are 12 organ transplant centers—three of which are local in Grand Rapids: Spectrum Health, Helen Devos Children’s Hospital and Mercy Health-Saint Mary’s.
With many patients traveling to Grand Rapids for transplants and testing, the need for affordable temporary housing is high for caregivers and patients going through the many steps of the transplant journey. Of the three current housing facilities available in Grand Rapids, there is not one that caters towards transplant/LVAD patients or their families.
After Heart Transplant Surgery: Care and Recovery
After heart transplant surgery, you begin the journey of healing and enjoying the gift of your new heart.
Once you are discharged from the hospital, you will need to stay in the area of your transplant hospital for at least a month. You will have regular check-ins with your heart transplant team and further tests.
If you do not live nearby, you and your caregiver can arrange for a room at the Transplant House until you can go home. Family House offers patients and their loved ones an affordable home away from home.
As you heal after heart transplant surgery, you will need to:
Take care of your incision site.
Take medicines twice a day.
Have follow-up tests and attend all appointments.
Move around. Focus on regaining strength and muscle mass that you lost while being sick before your transplant.
Cardiac rehab can help you recover and get stronger after your heart transplant.
Rehab lasts anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks and will help you:
Keep up with the breathing exercises you started while in the hospital.
Strengthen your whole body.
Post-Op Heart Transplant Appointment Schedule
You need to stay close to your transplant hospital for at least a month after your heart transplant.
For the first 4 weeks, you will come back once a week for biopsies.
During the biopsies, we take a tiny piece of the heart muscle and look for signs of inflammation or rejection. This is the only way doctors can tell early on if your body is rejecting your donor heart.
Then, if your recovery is going well, your appointments will follow this schedule:
Month 2 post-transplant — every other week.
Months 3 to 6 post-transplant — once a month.
Months 7 to 12 post-transplant — every other month.
Months 13 ongoing visit to transplant clinic and labs — 3 months
After your one year anniversary you go to one time yearly for biopsies
*This is the schedule for a normal transplant patient with no issues.