Monday, October 22, 2012
10/22/12 Categories of Transplants
There are many ways to categorize transplants between people, the organ you are getting, how many organs you are getting, 1st transplant vs. re-transplant, etc. The category I am talking about is the age you get your transplant and how being that age affects you.
I have categorized the ages into 3 groups: infant to 10 years old, 10 to 35ish years old, and lastly 35 years old and over. I came up with these groups because after meeting so many transplant recipients, I started to notice patterns in how people were affected in relation to when they got their transplant.
The youngest group was well used to their transplant and living that life, they don’t remember a life before transplant. But, the majority of these patients seems to get in trouble when they are in their teens (through not taking medications) because they do know the life without their transplant, how sick they were before transplant, how hard it was to get the transplant, how hard the surgery was, and that their medications really do something.
The 10-35 year old group, my age group, I feel like has many adjustment issues. We have lived a life we have known, have a routine, or a life “plan”/ are making our life “plan”, and then all the sudden it changes in ways we cannot prepare for. I was in school when I got my heart transplant, it took me about 2.5 years to get back to school, part time, and I had to change my degree to fit my new life. People in my age range our still trying to figure out our pathway for our lives while trying to take care of our transplant and fit our lives into our transplant life. We are also facing problems that the medical community does not know how to take care of, specifically for heart and lung transplants; an example is post profusion syndrome (pump head-I hate that term!). It is a type of memory, concentration, speaking, and writing issues.
I know the last group might seem like a very broad range, but let me explain. This group is “adults” and usually they have an established life, family, and career. People over 65 years old getting transplants are retiring from their jobs. When asked about things that I have had trouble with post-transplant at a support group, people have just assumed that it was a part of their aging. This is also a group that is most represented at support groups.
All three of these groups face different adversities. I feel that middle age group has been the least supported, so with the support of TRIO, I am helping to develop an online support group for the age range of 18-30 years old. After losing a close heart transplant friend, Evan in June, I really wanted to reach out to others who are having trouble with their transplant. If you are interesting in connecting to this group email me (through here) or look up the TRIO website (Transplant Recipients InternationalOrganization), or connect with me on facebook.com/allie.weese. I hope to hear from many people!
Giants Donor Day, with my sister Katie!