Planning for Your Transplant

There are many administrative, non-physical aspects of planning a transplant, including:

planning for transplant - image of Ele McLaughlinEle McLaughlin cared for her husband when he had a kidney transplant.

Important Decisions

Transplantation is a major surgery. Before any major surgery, patients should have some administrative arrangements in place.

Living Wills and Power of Attorney

Prior to surgery, your loved ones should understand your wishes. The Attorney General of Maryland has information on advanced directives.

You will also need to set up a Medical Power of Attorney so that if you are unable to make decisions, someone else can do that for you. Your legal advisor should be involved in these decisions to provide the best advice for your situation.


A caregiver will play a large role in your recovery process. He or she should know danger symptoms, and be aware of your disease and transplant procedure. Your caregiver should come to your doctors appointments with you, and be an active participant in the discussions. He or she may need to help you with your daily tasks.

Finally, your caregiver can be your advocate for many matters. While you focus your energy on staying healthy, the caregiver can focus on taking care of you.

planning for transplant - image of transplant recipients and family members

Transplant families provide support during the transplant process. Back row: Michael (liver) and Ruth Binsky, Jane and Col. Tom (heart) Edwards. Front row: Stanley (kidney) and Jacinta Marshall, Larry and Brenda (lung) Thompson.

Families and Caregivers

When you discover that your loved-one needs a transplant, you probably have many questions. As a family member or caregiver, you will need to support your loved-one throughout the transplant process. And if you are the primary caregiver, you’ll need to understand the patient’s health and medications.

Understanding the Disease

As the caregiver, you’ll need to understand the disease. Research it with the patient, and help the patient stay healthy before surgery. Know the danger signs of the disease, and have contact information for the patient’s transplant team. Come with your patient to medical appointments and play an active role in the discussion. The more you know and understand the situation, the better care you can provide.

Know the Medications

It is essential that you know what medications your loved-one is taking. Help your patient stay on schedule for taking the medications and learn about the side effects of each medication.

Advocate for the Patient

You are a key advocate for the patient. You should find out the patient’s wishes in the event he or she becomes incapacitated. You may also help by scheduling appointments, locating medical records, watching out for the patient’s safety, and making sure the patient is receiving the care he or she needs.

Physical Care

After surgery, the patient will need help with their physical care. You may need to help him or her get to appointments, organize medicines, make meals, and perform household chores. You may also need to help transport the patient.

planning for transplant - Larry Zito, liver recipient, and his daughter, Christine Sewell

Larry Zito, liver recipient, and his daughter,Christine Sewell

Emotional Support

Perhaps the most important part of being a patient’s caregiver is to provide emotional support. Transplant surgery is an extremely stressful and emotional time. You can help ease the anxiety by listening and being supportive. Simply spending time with a transplant patient lets them know you care.


Paying for a Transplant

In order to be eligible for transplantation at Johns Hopkins, we require patients to have adequate medical insurance. If you are considering transplantation, it is important to fully understand your transplant coverage and its limits.

Prior to being evaluated for transplant at Johns Hopkins, the transplant financial advocates will check with your insurance provider to confirm your transplant benefits. We will also confirm with your insurance provider whether or not the care you would receive at Johns Hopkins is covered.

To reach the Transplant Financial Advocates, call:

Program Phone Number
Heart and Lung Transplant 410-933-7451
Kidney Transplant 410-933-7450 or 410-933-7270
Liver Transplant 410-933-7270
Reconstructive Transplant 410-614-5551