After Your Kidney Transplant
A kidney transplant patient will stay in the hospital during surgery and recovery for five to seven days, depending on the individual needs of each patient. During this stay, transplant coordinators and transplant pharmacists will educate the patient and family about recovery, immunosuppressive medication and identification of rejection risks.
Medications and Recovery
Q: How do I learn my new medications and lifestyle?
A: The transplant team sees you every day while you are in the hospital. We have transplant coordinators and transplant pharmacists that help you and your family learn your new regimen. We help walk you through this new journey to make the transition easier.
Discharge planning includes preparation for taking multiple medications, recognizing the signs of organ rejection, home monitoring of vital signs and follow-up doctor and lab appointments. Families are encouraged to participate in the learning process, as they will play a significant role in the patient's recovery.
Post-Transplant Clinical Management
At this point in the kidney transplant process, the patient moves from a debilitating illness to a chronic, but manageable, illness. The medications and care required by a post-transplant patient necessitates frequent contact and testing with the transplant program. In the initial phases of post-transplant, the patient will make at least one visit per week to the Transplant Center, typically for the first two months. As the patient stabilizes, visits become less frequent; however, patients can utilize the Transplant Center for ongoing support whenever it's needed.
Q: After I am discharged from the hospital, when and how often do I need to come to the Transplant Clinic?
A: We will see you in clinic every week with lab tests three times a week. This will continue until your lab tests stabilize.
Q: After a transplant do I still see my kidney doctor?
A: Yes, we want you to continue seeing your original kidney doctor. We try to alternate appointments: you see the transplant team, and the next appointment you see your kidney doctor.
Q: How long do you see me after my transplant?
A: The transplant team sees you for the first year after transplant. After the first year, you "graduate" to seeing your kidney doctor. We like to see you yearly unless you are having any problems, then we will see you sooner.
Life After a Kidney Transplant
Receiving a new organ is truly a gift of life. Once the transplant surgery is over, and the patient has made a strong recovery, he or she can enjoy independence and a new quality of life. Many patients say there is a big and positive change in their lives following a transplant - and families also enjoy a new sense of freedom and hope.
Iowa Donor Network
United Network for Organ Sharing
American Association of Kidney Patients
American Diabetes Association
National Kidney Foundation
TransWeb: All about Transplantation and Donation
The Coalition on Donation
In Focus (A photojournalist chronicles his journey through kidney failure, dialysis and living donor transplant)