What is transition?
Transition is a normal part of life. At some point we all transition into new jobs, schools, circle of friends and so on. Change is a natural and exciting part of becoming an adult.
In the medical world transitioning often refers to the point when a teenage patient begins assuming more responsibility for his or her own healthcare. Just like in real life this transition is an important sign of growing-up, especially for patients that have received transplants.
You and your parents may be nervous about you taking on your own healthcare. It's a natural reaction, but remember they and other important adults in your life will always be there to help you become an independent person.
Managing your health—including the health of your transplanted organ—is important for living a long and happy life. Learning this skill takes many years. Taking charge of your own health is a journey that your transplant team will encourage you to start at age 12. That way, by the time you're in your late teens or early 20s, you'll be ready to care for yourself. This includes choosing a transplant center that specializes in adults, and checking in with that team on a regular basis.
Transition learning tools
Your transplant team wants you to succeed in becoming an independent adult managing your own health. We'll give you all the tools you need, including:
- Hands-on models and activities
- Computer games
- Web site recommendations
- Questionnaires to assess your learning need
- Help selecting the right adult transplant center
But the most important tool we can give you is our time. When you come in to see us for your clinic visits, ask us lots of questions ... and listen to the answers! That way, you will become the expert.
The "You" Team
We're not the only ones who want to see you grow into an independent, health-smart adult. You are on the mind of a lot of people.
The map below sums up the idea: You and your health are the main focus of a team of people—that's why you're in the middle. Throughout your life, there will be important people to guide and support you. Becoming an adult doesn't mean you lose the support of these important people. It means you take control.
If someone asked you who you work most closely with on staying healthy, you'd probably say, "First my parents, and then my transplant team." It's true: The transplant team has cared for you before you received your transplant, and has worked with you and your family to keep you healthy since. In the years ahead, we we'll make sure you have all the information you need to be the expert on you. That way, you'll be able to tell the medical professionals you see as an adult how they can help you in the best way possible.
The transplant team you see now will miss you when you become an adult. By then, though, you will have needs and questions that adult teams can answer better.
The road ahead
The clinic visits you have from the age of 12 on will include some new steps:
Answering a questionnaire each year
Figuring out which areas of your health you know well, and which areas you need to understand better
Talking about your medication knowledge: What do you take? When do you take it? Why do you take it? How do you remember to take it?
At the end of the road lies young adulthood. By then, you'll be able to:
- Know what your transplanted organ does
- Speak up when you notice a change in your health
- Remember to take and refill your medication
- Talk directly to all the members of your team
- Get your lab work done on your own
- Make your own appointments
- Make choices that will keep you healthy for a long time
- Know the basics of health insurance
- Understand the risks of not taking your medication properly
At the end of the transition road, you'll be an adult who has taken charge of all your healthcare needs. You will have a working knowledge of the specialized healthcare that you'll require throughout your life to take care of your transplant. You and your pediatric transplant team at Boston Children's Hospital will celebrate your success.