Back on the Road to Life: Iranian Patients’ Experience of Heart Transplantation

Document Type : Original Article


1 Associate Professor, Department of Community Health and Geriatric, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Professor, Research Center of Quran, Hadith and Medicine, Spiritual Health Group, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, Department of Critical Care Nursing, Nursing and Midwifery Care Research Center, Spiritual Health Group, Research Center of Quran, Hadith and Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 PhD Candidate, Department of Critical Care Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Heart transplantation is a standard treatment for end-stage cardiac disease. In addition to inducing physical changes and improving the quality of life, it causes unique mental and psychological changes in transplant recipients. Therefore, this study sought to explain and interpret the experience of heart transplant recipients in Iran.
Methods: Using a qualitative content analysis approach, this study was performed on 13 heart transplant recipients in Tehran. The data were collected through observation and semi-structured interviews. The participants were selected using purposive sampling, and the interviews continued until data saturation. After obtaining informed consent, interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using conventional and concurrent content analysis.
Results: The analysis of the data revealed two stages experienced by heart transplant recipients. The transition stage was categorized into two concepts of "emotional turmoil" and "feeling of duality". The emotional turmoil was subcategorized into feeling guilty, alienation with the new heart, and gratitude. Besides, the "feeling of duality" was subdivided into personality change and lifestyle changes. The stabilization stage was conceptualized into “self-acceptance” which was subcategorized into three concepts of the acceptance of the new heart, feeling of unity with the donor, and normalization.
Conclusion: Adaptation to the new heart is a multistage process in heart transplant recipients. Based on the insights from this study, it can be concluded that healthcare professionals need to improve their knowledge of post-transplant changes, recipients’ feelings, and their adaptation strategies. They are also advised to address the physical needs and mental concerns of transplant recipients.


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