Stage 6: Functional Recovery

Stage 6 begins when the risk of acute rejection and medical complications lessen. Healing and medical stabilization have taken place. The individual starts to conceptualize their role of a recipient, and considers leaving the patient role behind. Physical signs of liver disease have all but disappeared and the individual is starting to feel healthy.

Complication in Stage 6 include rejection, loss of graft, debilitation, and as always death. Any of these can delay recovery or result in return to an earlier stage (Figure 1).  Individuals with uncomplicated recoveries stay in this stage for 6-18 months before moving to Stage 7. Due to failure to adapt to some of the physical/physiological, psychological/emotional, social, or occupational changes that occur over this process, some individuals may never move forward and truly integrate the identity of the transplant recipient. Instead, they retain the ‘patient’ identity, feeling vulnerable about the integrity of their health and dependent on the health care system. Failure to move on means excess demands on the health care system, the family and the physical and emotional health of the individual.

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