Life experiences of adult heart transplant recipients: a new life, challenges, and coping



The process during and after heart transplantation is quite complicated, and studies addressing patient experiences are needed. Heart transplantation particularly affects the recipients’ activities of daily living and exposes them to various complications. The aim of this study is to explore the experiences of heart transplant recipients during and after heart transplantation.


This qualitative, phenomenological research was conducted with 11 heart transplant recipients in the university hospital, which is one of the 14 heart transplantation centers in Turkey. The data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews in a private room that ensured both the comfort of the participants and the necessary conditions for safe data collection. The interviews were recorded using an audio recorder, transcribed, and then analyzed using inductive content analysis. Data collection was terminated after the 11th interview when the data reached the saturation point.


The study data were categorized into the following three main themes and subthemes: (1) a new life with a new heart; an opportunity arising at an unexpected time, heart donation, and transplantation as a value, (2) challenges; management of medication therapy and side effects, emotion management, maintaining social relations, and social stigma, and (3) coping; faith in God and praying, responsibility of living with a blessing (donated heart), health professional support, family support, and peer counseling. In line with these themes, expressions of value given to new life and gratitude to heart transplantation were important. The availability and diversity of support sources came to the fore in coping. Social stigma expressions of especially male patients were remarkable in challenges.


At the end of the study, the experiences of heart transplant recipients were obtained regarding a new life with a new heart, challenges, and coping. The study results provide an insight into the challenges that the heart transplant recipients face and their coping strategies, guiding the healthcare professionals. The challenges and relevant coping strategies of heart transplant recipients may be integrated into clinical practice and may help plan patient’s care. The results may also be used to design and implement an intervention program to improve care for these patients.

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Data Availability

For research data, audio recordings of in-depth interviews with participants and documented files are kept for 7 years. In addition, data are open to sharing transparently if requested.


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The authors would like to thank the participants who joined the interview.


The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Author information




FC and ÖB were responsible for the study conception and design. FC and ÇE performed the data collection. FC, ÇE, and EÇ performed the data analysis. FC, EÇ, ÇE, and ÖB were responsible for the drafting of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to CATAL Emine.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

Ethics approval was granted from the Akdeniz University Faculty of Medicine Clinical Research Ethics Committee (70904504/478; Decision Number: 478, Dated 05.11.2014) for study. The study had been carried out in accordance with The Code of Ethics of Declaration of Helsinki.

Consent to participate

A written informed consent was obtained from each participant. The participants were assured that the collected data would remain confidential and their real names would not be used during data presentation.

Consent for publication

Consent was obtained from all participants for publishing the research data in the consent form. The participants were assured that the collected data would remain confidential and their real names would not be used during data presentation.

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Fatma, C., Cigdem, C., Emine, C. et al. Life experiences of adult heart transplant recipients: a new life, challenges, and coping. Qual Life Res (2021).

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  • Heart transplantation
  • Life change events
  • Qualitative research