Common Medical Conditions

Mental Health Aspects of Organ Transplantation

Written by Dr. Shivanand B Hiremath and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan

Image: Mental Health Aspects of Organ Transplantation

Advancement in the organ transplantation field and awareness about organ donation has increased the rate of organ transplantation in the last decade. It has given new hope for patients suffering from end-stage organ diseases. At the same time, it has also given rise to unique problems along with transplantation-related complications. Mental health issues among the recipients while waiting for the organ and post-transplantation period are of a serious nature. They definitely need to be addressed seriously.

The mental health issues among transplant recipients can be divided into two types:

  1. Pretransplant issues like fear of death, anxiety about the procedure, financial and psychosocial issues.
  2. Post-transplant issues like fear of organ rejection, dependence on family members, adjustment disorder, etc.

Pretransplant Issues:

The organ donation awareness is still very less, and every year many patients die waiting for the organs. Cultural factors, lack of awareness, and lack of motivation among health professionals contribute to ignorance about organ donation.

  • Patients with an end-stage organ disease would be waiting for the organ for months.
  • During this period, they would have multiple hospital admissions for the stabilization of their present condition.
  • Fear of death would take over them. Anxiety disorders are common in this stage and will lead to major depression. Many patients will have anxiety about the procedure and its outcome.
  • End-stage kidney and liver disease lead to encephalopathy often. This leads to cognitive deficits as well.
  • The financial burden will have a huge impact on the family and at least one or two members should be dedicated to patient care.
  • At this stage, medications for major depression or anxiety are avoided because of the complex dynamics of the end-stage organ disease.
  • Psychotherapy is the preferred treatment option. For the family, supportive therapy is given to reduce the burnout.

Complete necessary information about the procedure, realistic expectation about getting the organ and the outcome should be explained.

Post-transplant Issues:

Early post-transplant period is very crucial as the organ rejection threat is significant in that period. The patient should be given high-quality care. Later on, the patient might suffer from adjustment disorder, psychosomatic disorders, depression and PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder). These issues also can be addressed with the help of psychotherapy and group therapy. Group therapy plays a very important role as the affected persons can share their experiences and chalk out their own way of coping skills.

Overall, the awareness about organ donation should increase to provide benefit for a lot of patient's life.

To get more about the psychological issues, consult a psychologist counsellor online.---->

Last reviewed at: 12.Apr.2019



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