Rawlings School of Divinity
Master of Divinity (MDiv)
Harold D. Bryant
Religious Distress, Spiritual Distress, Transplant Patients, Chaplaincy
Christianity | Religion
Ryman, Amber Nicole, "Identifying Risk Factors for and Responding to Religious/Spiritual Distress in Transplant Patient Populations" (2020). Masters Theses. 662.
Due to the advancement of organ transplant technology, more people are able to receive a second chance at life through organ donation. In 2019, the United States conducted close to 40,000 transplants and this represents close to 40,000 people experiencing various states of healthcare crisis. Chaplains have the opportunity, and responsibility, to care for the religious/spiritual well-being of these transplant patients and their caregivers as they navigate the unique processes and challenges that transplantation entails. It is the argument of this thesis that risk factors for spiritual distress in transplant populations need to be identified as early as possible, in order to minimize potential long-term impacts. This thesis also advocates for a Biblical response to common post-transplant risk factors—especially the impact of feelings of guilt and indebtedness towards the donor. While these reactions are common amongst transplant patients, research shows they are not reported consistently, and this has concerning implications for addressing a patient’s religious/spiritual well-being. Once someone receives an organ transplant, they are a transplant patient for the rest of their lives. It is critical to the overall health, functioning, and well-being of the patient that they are given the proper education, training, coping tools, and support to thrive with their new organ. Religious/spiritual care is an important component of transplant care that is often overshadowed by the intensive medical aspects of recovery and long-term transplant care. This thesis hopes o shed light on the unique challenges faced by transplant populations that are not widely addressed, because it is the position of this thesis that religious/spiritual distress symptoms kept in the dark and untreated are a hindrance to full recovery and healing after a life-saving transplant. Post-transplant care must focus on thriving after transplant, not merely physically surviving.