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Psychiatry Services

Emory Transplant Behavioral Health

Integrating Behavioral Health Services for Transplant Patients

At the Emory Transplant Center, we have a team of behavioral health providers that specialize in working with medically complex patients. It is common for transplant candidates and recipients to experience stress and intense emotions during the evaluation, waitlist, and recovery phases of transplant. Our team is available to evaluate and support patients throughout the transplant process.

Why are transplant patients at greater risk for psychiatric concerns?

Patients and caregivers often have trouble adjusting to the physical and emotional challenges associated with chronic illness and organ transplant. It is common to experience intense emotions like depression and anxiety throughout the transplant process, particularly post-transplant. Aside from the stress associated with chronic illness, demanding medical regimens, and waiting for transplant, intense emotions can also be a side effect of some transplant medications.

Who is at risk and what are the symptoms?

Patients are generally more vulnerable to psychiatric concerns during the period immediately surrounding transplantation. Mood and anxiety-related disorders are the most common psychiatric problems, affecting both pre- and post-transplant patients. Patients with histories of anxiety or depression often experience an exacerbation of symptoms in the transplant setting.

Pre-Transplant Stressors

  • Persistent worry about health and the outcome of transplant evaluation
  • Whether transplant will occur
  • Recurrent hospitalization(s)

Post-Transplant Stressors

  • ICU stay post-transplant
  • Medical complications
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Post-operative complications
  • Graft rejection and/or medication side effects
  • These stressors may interfere with a patient's ability or motivation to adhere to medications, self-monitoring, exercise, clinic appointments, testing and treatments.  

Our Services

The transplant behavioral health team will help you and your family cope with the stresses associated with chronic disease and the transplant process. We provide:

  • Medication management & consultation
  • Individual, couples, family, and group therapy

Psychotherapy and psychiatric medication are commonly used in combination to treat mental health problems. This is because patients often need medication to be able to do the work of psychotherapy and psychotherapy can address certain issues or symptoms that medication alone cannot.

Our Providers

Our team is comprised of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers.  Psychiatrists are medical doctors who focus on the physiological aspects of mental illness and prescribe medication to treat psychopathology. Clinical Psychologists are doctors who focus on the evaluation, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of intellectual, emotional, psychological, social, and behavioral issues.
Kandi (Felmet) Schmidt, PhD
Director of Transplant Behavioral Health
Emory University School of Medicine
Carissa Balderas, PhD
Emory University School of Medicine Assistant Professor Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Joseph Vinson, MD
Emory University School of MedicineAssistant Professor Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Michael Lucido, MD, PhD
Emory University School of MedicineAssistant Professor Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Raymond Young, MD, FAPM
Emory University School of MedicineAssociate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Program Director: Consultation Liaison Psychiatry Fellowship
Division Chief: Psychiatric Consultation Liaison Services, Emory Healthcare

Kristin Smith, LCSW
Emory Transplant Center
Mental Health Social Worker
Request an Appointment
If you are an Emory Transplant patient, contact your transplant coordinator for more information and to schedule an appointment. Please call 855-366-7989.