After Your Kidney Transplant
A kidney transplant patient will typically spend three-to-four days in the hospital, depending on the recovery process. The transplant team will see you every day while you are in the hospital. Transplant coordinators, transplant pharmacists and nursing staff will educate you and your support person about recovery, immunosuppressive medication and identification of rejection risks. 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.
Depending on your recovery, it is possible that you could be back to work within three-to-eight weeks after your transplant surgery. Nutritionists and dietitians will advise you to eat a low fat and low salt diet to help you stay healthy.
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 needed by a post-transplant patient requires frequent contact and testing with the transplant program.
- After you are discharged from the hospital, you will visit to the Transplant Center every week for the first month, with lab tests two times a week for three months.
- You will continue seeing your original kidney doctor. We try to alternate the two appointments by scheduling your first appointment with the transplant team, and the next appointment with your kidney doctor.
- You will see the transplant team for the first year after your transplant. After the first year, you "graduate" to seeing your kidney doctor. You will follow-up with the Transplant Center yearly unless you are having problems.
One of the primary concerns with a kidney transplant is the possibility of rejection. Your body can fight off "invaders" such as bacteria and viruses. These same processes can attack your new kidney. Your doctor will prescribe you antirejection medication (immunosuppressants) to slow your body's defenses. Do not take any other medications unless you have discussed it with your transplant doctor first.
Possible side effects of antirejection medications include:
- high blood pressure
- heart problems
- weakened bones
- weight gain
- a higher risk of cancer and infections
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.