Steve Hartley, who had a stem cell transplant, with his family

Coming Home After a Transplant

By the time you are well enough to go home, you might feel a bit overwhelmed and experience many different emotions all at once.

Preparing to return home

Many patients are relieved and excited about going home, but others worry about coping without the support they received in hospital.

You may not have realised it, but you have already spent a few weeks getting used to being a transplant recipient and the regular medical checks that need to happen. You are probably more aware of your body already and how to spot the signs of any side effects, so try not to worry.

Your team will only be happy for you to go home once they are sure you are safe and ready.

The Essentials

It’s important that you feel prepared to go home. Your nurse will come to see you before you leave hospital for a ‘going home’ talk, when they will provide you with:

• contact details for your transplant team, including an out-of-hours number
• information on looking after your central venous catheter (CVC)
• advice about nutrition, your diet and some gentle physical exercise you can do at home
• information on what to do if there’s a sudden change in your temperature
• information on what to do if you develop a rash or diarrhoea
• your medication and information on how to take it
• the times of your first appointments in out-patients.

Life at home

You might find that you aren’t as independent as you were before your transplant and that you have to rely on the help of your family and friends more than you were expecting. This will not last forever and, as you recover, you will begin to regain your independence.

Although being well enough to return home is a significant milestone in your recovery, the day-to-day reality of being at home can be challenging for some people. Many patients we talk to were surprised about how isolated they felt during this time because they were often in the house alone.

This time will pass much more quickly if you break each day down into small, manageable chunks, and set yourself goals for what you would like to achieve. For example, you might decide to go for a 30 minute walk or do a craft you enjoy for an hour. Doing a small amount of exercise each day will also help reduce the effects of fatigue.

You can set yourself recovery goals using the My Transplant Tracker mobile app.

It all kind of hits home when you leave hospital, the responsibility – you've got to be so careful and so clean. At home, you've lost your safety blanket. You can always press that button in the hospital when you need something, but there is no button at home!

Nigel, who had a transplant in 2013 – you can read his story here

Information published: 02/08/2021

Next review due: 02/08/2024