Mental health and support after transplant
- Medically reviewed by
- AKF's Medical Advisory Committee
- Last updated
- December 16, 2021
How will I feel after a transplant?
Getting a transplant is an exciting event! Because it is also a major life change, it is normal to feel all kinds of emotions after a transplant, such as:
- Happiness and gratitude for the gift of donation. You may even want to thank your living donor or deceased donor's family, such as by writing a letter or email, having a phone call or meeting in person. Ask your transplant center for help to arrange this.
- Feeling overwhelmed by all the changes after your transplant, including how to care for your new kidney.
- Stress or anxiety about the costs of medicines or insurance.
- Frustration, depression or anger if the new kidney is not working well.
- Guilt about getting a kidney from a living or deceased donor.
If you have any of these feelings, know that you are not alone. Many transplant recipients have these feelings at first, for many reasons. Sometimes, mood changes are even a side effect of immunosuppressant medicines.
What can I do if I am having trouble dealing with my emotions?
You do not have to deal with these feelings alone. Reach out to your family and friends for support and talk to your transplant team. Let them know about your emotions so they can help support you and change your medicines if needed. They can also refer you to a mental health professional or online support and mentorship programs.
Here are some tips that may help you deal with your emotions:
- Find hobbies that you enjoy doing
- Meditate or take deep breaths
- Pay attention to your present thoughts and feelings, not the past, and avoid judging them as right or wrong
- Start a journal
- Set small goals for yourself, such as taking a walk every morning
- Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night
How can I help other people on the transplant waiting list?
After your transplant, you may want to help people who are on the transplant waiting list. One way to do this is to share your transplant experience with others. Talk to your transplant team about becoming a transplant peer mentor — a person who has already had a transplant who shares their experience with other people on the transplant waiting list through one-on-one conversations. Many people find it helpful to talk with others about their experience, and people on the transplant waiting list find it helpful to learn about first-hand experiences!
Adjusting to life after kidney transplant
Getting a kidney transplant can be an exciting, life-changing event, but caring for a new kidney can be a lot of work. Anyone who is thinking about a kidney transplant or recently had a kidney transplant should consider the physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes that can come with it.