kidney transplant post op care: what to expect
If you are on the United Network for Organ Sharing list for a kidney transplant, you know about the long wait, dialysis, and living with chronic kidney disease. Every day you hoped the Network would call. Then one day it happened. You grabbed a suitcase you packed long ago and headed to the hospital.
What can you expect your life to be like after the transplant?
1. Feeling better
- Your kidney will start working in a few days and your physical well being will improve.
- You will be free of dialysis, although in some cases dialysis may be necessary for a week or two after the operation.
- You will have far more time and energy.
2. Diet restrictions
- Low salt
- Undercooked or raw food - no sushi
- Unwashed food of any type, especially fruits and vegetables.
- Grapefruit and pomegranate
- Salad bars at restaurants, buffet style restaurants in general.
- Stay well hydrated
3. Exercise - talk to your doctor
- Improved heart and lung function
- Avoid weight gain
- Feeling better
4. Immunosuppressant medications to avoid transplant rejection
- Increased danger of infection. Keep your environment clean and stay away from possible sources of infection.
- Take your medicines every day, like clockwork. Do not miss a dose.
- Know the symptoms of infection and rejection and ask for help immediately if you think something may be amiss.
- Understand the requirements for immunosuppressant monitoring - and ask your doctor about better ways to do it
5. Weight gain
- You will have a tendency to gain weight. This is normal. Watch your diet. Exercise. And take it easy on yourself.
6. Psychological state
- Guilt because you received an organ from a donor.
- Anxiety over whether the transplant will work out.
- Depression as a side effect of the medications or for other reasons.
- Don't suffer in silence. The help you need is available. Discuss problems with your doctor if it seems like a good idea.
7. Returning to a normal life
- Give yourself at least four to six weeks before returning to work, driving, etc.
- Put off traveling for a few months.
- Blood tests will be needed for as long as the kidney is working, more frequently in the first year, then every three to four months.
- Immunosuppressant levels should be right where they need to be
- Blood pressure checks
- Weight monitoring
There will be a lot of rules that you will have to follow in order to maintain the health of your new kidney, but the freedom and well being that you will experience will be worth it. New methods of blood sampling and monitoring will allow you to do a fingerstick at home using a special kit. The blood can then be mailed in, which is far less disruptive than earlier, outdated methods.
Follow the rules carefully. Keep your kidney healthy, avoid rejection and it will give you many years of a much better life.