Skip To Content

    21 Things People Don't Tell You About Having Transplant Surgery

    "I didn't understand how grateful I could be until someone gave a part of their body to ease suffering in mine." A writer who had a transplant to save his sight gives his perspective.

    1. Being told you need transplant surgery is incredibly humbling.

    2. You'll get overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers.

    3. And you'll be overwhelmed by the kindness of friends and family too.

    4. Transplants aren't just for organs

    5. The waiting is the hardest part.

    Studio Canal

    No time passes as slowly as your time on the transplant waiting list: You can be on it for years.

    According to the NHS, the average wait for a kidney transplant is 3 years, which is too long for some people.

    6. Which makes being told it's time for your transplant the most emotionally complex moment of your life.

    7. Contrary to what movies may say, you won't take on the personality of your donor. Or have flashbacks to their memories.


    Despite the urban legends that say otherwise, this won't happen. You'll still worry it will, though.

    8. In fact, you probably won't obsess about your donor's identity at all.

    9. But you probably will obsess about rejection

    10. Although most people can donate, some can't.


    If you're not sure if you can join the donor register, you probably can. But there are some restrictions on some health conditions (I have one that means I'm banned from giving blood and face limitations on other donations, for example). In the UK, most religious groups support donation too.

    11. And although most people can receive transplants, some can't.

    Just like most people can donate, most people can receive a transplant if they need one. But patients do need to be well enough for the operation to go ahead. Serious illnesses can make a transplant unviable.

    12. Transplants are not an instant and complete cure.

    13. Certain transplants mean you can't do certain sports

    14. But having a transplant can open up a whole new world of exercise.

    15. Medically, your race can be a big disadvantage.

    16. You'll always have a reason to carry on

    17. One donor can help up to 50 recipients.

    18. Doctors really do work incredibly hard to save the lives of people on the donor register.

    19. Transplants don't always last forever.


    My post-transplant appointments have mainly been routine for a few years now but I was recently surprised to hear that the transplant I received may not last forever. Sometimes transplants "wear out" and have to be replaced with new ones.

    20. Saying "I've had a transplant!" will make people make you tea.

    21. We are in a donor crisis right now.

    BuzzFeed Daily

    Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form