A heart transplant surgery is one of the most complex and rigorous surgical procedures that an individual will have to undergo. Some amount of mental stress and emotional anxiety is perfectly normal, and it is to help alleviate the stress and anxiety that psychological care prior to a heart transplant is extremely critical.
Psychological care involves bringing education and awareness to the patient and the caregivers to help them fully comprehend a heart transplant procedure, the treatment plan designed for the patient in question and the post-surgical rehabilitation drawn. Improved awareness of the risks and safeguards often helps ease the anxiety and thereby improve patient-outcomes.
The first step of psychological assessment is to check and identify the availability of appropriate caregivers, before and after the transplant. A caregiver can be an immediate family member or a close, personal friend who can provide care as well as support. A caregiver is fundamental to a transplant procedure.
Secondly, the patient is made to fully aware of his/her illness and the procedure that he/she is about to undergo. It is ascertained whether the patient is accepting and cooperative or resisting and unsure of the procedure. It is vital, that the patient also shares a level of positivity about the procedure, for improved outcome. In some cases, the patient may not fully be capable of making this decision and the caregivers make the decision on behalf of the patient.
History of substance abuse, if any, alcohol abuse, if any - also feature in psychological assessment as well as any religious or cultural misgivings they may have. The assessment also goes into the financial aspect of the transplant procedure, to understand if the financial burden could undo the relief given by the heart transplant.
A comprehensive post-transplant plan is drawn up with specific post-transplant goals, expectations and the quality of life parameters. Additionally, the following aspects are dealt with on a case-by-case basis to ensure that all aspects of transplant care are covered:
Overall, the fundamental underpinning of psychological care is helping the patient cope and manage stress.