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Adapting To A Better Life After Transplant Operations

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Sasha Daneah Anderson

In the final part of a series marking National Rehabilitation Awareness Week Sasha Daneah Anderson looks at how donor organs can make a difference.

THE fact that an organ transplant is an option for those in need of it is a blessing in itself.

With the right support, someone with renal/kidney disease does not have to live on dialysis for the rest of their life. Someone with liver disease can undergo liver transplantation and leave surgery with a liver that is better than before.

With cardiac transplantation, one has the choice of receiving a heart from a donor and if the waiting list for a heart is too long, there is the option of receiving a temporary artificial heart (TAH). Technology has really outdone itself in this case. To be able to receive a TAH while on the waiting list for an actual live heart is amazing and I commend those physicians who offer this service.

Although organ transplantation may not be common in The Bahamas, I also commend those Bahamians living the professional rehabilitation life who help clients before and after surgery.

Organ transplantation is a life changing procedure for which one has to prepare their mind, body, and spirit. Once the surgery has shown to be a success, there is maintenance of this new and foreign organ in the body.

What is the best remedy for one who has just undergone organ transplantation? Exercise! As clichéd as this remedy sounds, it has been proven to be beneficial to clients post-surgery. Guided by a physician, physical/exercise therapy should be prescribed to clients. The goal of physical activity after transplantation is to improve strength, enhance aerobic capacity and improve physical work capability.

Moreover, rehabilitation after organ transplantation seeks to improve the client’s physical and psychological fitness. The goal is to achieve a level of activity that permits maintenance of an active lifestyle. The rehabilitation programme focuses on stretching exercises, repetitive low-level resistance exercises and aerobic exercises.

As I have mentioned in previous articles this week, each individual is different so treatment will be customised. Clients who experienced a successful transplantation and follows doctor’s orders by engaging in physical/exercise therapy post-operation, are more likely to be on the path to have a quality of life. In order to affirm this, it is of utmost importance for clients, especially long-term survivors, to seek vocational rehabilitation counselling. There are cases where clients are functioning to the best of their ability post-organ transplantation and are having difficulty attaining employment that contributes in a positive manner to their overall health.

Some employers are not willing to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate those with a disability; however, with vocational rehabilitation counselling, clients can feel at ease knowing someone is on their side.

Rehabilitation has never played a more important role in maximising the potential of these clients, “adding life to years and years of life”.

We are coming to the end of National Rehabilitation Awareness Week and if there is one thing I would like you to take away from it let it be, “the Soul inspires, the Mind steers us in the direction compatible to what our Soul desires, and the Body needs the health and strength to get us there”.

Without mental attention and self-awareness, we as living beings will be unable to function to the best of our ability. In rehabilitation, it is important to pay special attention to the trio - Mind, Body and Soul - and with guidance from the rehabilitation team, the ability to attain quality of life is inevitable.

Sasha Daneah Anderson is a Rehabilitation Counsellor born and raised in Nassau. Educated at St Anne’s Anglican High School and College of the Bahamas, she graduated from Emporia State University, Kansas, with a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counselling. She can be contacted at sander12@

g.emporia.edu.

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