Our Program

The transition years between being a teenager and becoming an adult can present difficult challenges. Adolescents and young adults who have undergone a transplant are confronted with a unique set of stressors in addition to the normal stress that adolescents face daily.

Transplant-related issues and teens

The need for an organ transplant is difficult for anyone to accept, process and cope with. The emotional and psychological stress impacts all family members.

For teens and young adults who are developing the ability to think in new ways and explore new thoughts, the idea of facing transplantation stimulates concerns and questions about their bodies, their relationships and their lives.

Important factors in helping teens and young adults cope effectively with a transplant experience include:

  • Being honest with your adolescent about his illness and his healthcare needs.
  • Including your adolescent in discussions and decision-making about his transplant. Be honest about the benefits and risks involved, this is important to helping him cope with the process and life after a transplant.
  • Encouraging your adolescent to ask questions and express his fears and feelings about how this affects his life.
  • Addressing concerns about death and the possibility of dying. Though difficult to talk about, it is important to address this topic with adolescent in any life-threatening situation.
  • Encouraging hopefulness.
  • Using humor when possible, it helps to reduce stress.
  • Having friends visit your adolescent in the hospital, when possible.
  • Enlisting the help of mental health professionals in addressing fears, feelings and behaviors that are problematic for your teen or for other family members.

Noncompliance with medical treatment

As teens and young adults learn more about their transplant and are encouraged to take responsibility for their health, attempts to make their own decisions about their healthcare are common. Trials of decreasing their medication or not taking it without talking to a doctor often happen. While this behavior may be developmentally normal, it may create the need for additional healthcare intervention as it can lead to the loss of the transplanted organ.

Angry or self-conscious feelings related to having a transplant, or poor judgment in how to cope with their feelings, might also affect compliance with recommended treatment or management techniques.

It is important for parents and healthcare professionals working with teens to help them develop emotionally healthy ways of living with their transplant and its management requirements.

Some ways to help teens deal with the complications may include:

  • Encouraging teens to share their ideas and concerns with healthcare professionals
  • Promoting discussion of what happened rather than reprimanding when a teen’s health reaches an unstable state due to noncompliance of medical recommendations
  • Teaching the use of problem-solving skills related to his illness by asking questions such as: "What do you think you would you do if…?" or "What do you think would happen if…?" Be open to your teen asking you the same kinds of questions

Seek mental health services when:

  • A teen seems overwhelmed with emotional issues related to his transplant
  • A pattern of noncompliance continues
  • A teen’s development regresses, overly dependent behavior continues or he withdraws from or gives up interest in age-appropriate activities

AP 101: I Own it Clinic

At Children’s, we are dedicated to providing the resources to help make the transition to adulthood as smooth as possible. Our goal is to provide adolescent and young adult transplant recipients with the education and experiences that encourage a healthy, successful future where they function as independent adults.

Our AP 101: I Own it Clinic provides:

  • More comprehensive, individualized care
  • Opportunities for independence–teens and young adults are seen without their parents for most clinic visits
  • Resources for coping with a transplant
  • Age-appropriate healthcare education
  • Close collaboration with the Emory Transplant Center, an adult facility

AP 101: I Own it Clinic for liver patients

This clinic is for liver transplant patients ages 14 to 21 who are one year posttransplant. Clinics are held the fourth Thursday of each month in the Transplant Clinic. This clinic replaces regularly scheduled visits. It is not an additional clinic visit. Clinics are held jointly with the Emory Transplant Center.

AP 101: I Own it Clinic for heart patients

This clinic is for heart transplant patients ages 14 to 21 who are one year posttransplant. Clinics are held the last Tuesday of each month. Each teen is required to attend two clinics per year. A tour of the Emory Transplant Center is available for patients who are preparing to transition to this adult facility

AP 101: I Own it Clinic for kidney patients

This clinic is for kidney transplant patients ages 14 to 21 who are one year posttransplant. Clinics are held in the afternoons on the first and third Thursday in the Transplant Clinic. This clinic replaces regularly scheduled visits. It is not an additional clinic visit.

Call 800-605-6175 to enroll in the liver and kidney clinics, or for more information.

Call 404-785-6395 to enroll in the heart clinic, or for more information.