Post-Kidney Transplant Care: Tips for a Healthy Life

Overview – People choose kidney transplants to regain their health in long term. A successful kidney transplant may give you the life that you miss. However, for better results, you must live healthily and take care of yourself as well as possible.

After kidney transplant:

  • Meet with your transplant team regularly and follow their advice
  • Use your anti-rejection drugs at the right time and dosage
  • Do not skip lab tests and exams to make sure your kidney is working properly
  • Follow your diet and exercise program
In Turkey, kidney transplantation is offered for chronic kidney failure
The commercial trade in human organs is prohibited by law in Turkey

Rejection of the organ

The most common and important complication of an organ transplant is your body’s rejection of the new organ. Your body perceives the new kidney as foreign tissue and attacks the organ to protect itself. Rejection is your body’s natural response to a kidney transplant. So, you need to use anti-rejection drugs to prevent rejection. Also, you should take your medications exactly as directed by your doctor.

Two types of rejection can occur after a kidney transplant:

Acute rejection can usually occur within a year of a kidney transplant. Your doctor can successfully treat this complication.

Chronic rejection usually happens slowly and over the long term. However, its causes are not yet known. Treatment success rates are low.

Kidney rejection signs and symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Flu symptoms such as body aches, chills, headache
  • Decrease in urination
  • High blood pressure
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Swelling in the wrists
  • Tenderness or pain in your surgical site
  • Feeling tired

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Anti-rejection medicine

These drugs suppress your immune system and prevent the body from attacking foreign tissue. Therefore, you need to use anti-rejection drugs until your body gets used to your new kidney. In the early stages after kidney transplantation, it is difficult to diagnose rejection. Moreover, if rejection has started, it is usually not possible to reverse it. No matter how good you feel, you should never miss your anti-rejection medication. Even missing a dose can cause rejection to begin.

To use your medicines correctly:

  • Medication has to be a part of your routine
  • Use a digital alarm as a reminder
  • Find out the dosage, name, and functions of your medications
  • Continuously review dose and frequency changes
  • Share your concerns and problems with medication with your transplant team
  • If a doctor other than your transplant team prescribes medication for you, be sure to inform your transplant team

Additionally, because anti-rejection drugs affect your immune system, there may be a risk of infection. Inform your doctor immediately if you experience any side effects. Then, your doctor may change the dose or type of your medicine according to your needs.

Diet and Nutrition after kidney transplant

After a successful kidney transplant, you should take good care of your new kidney. Of course, there will be no nutritional restrictions as in dialysis. However, you will still need to make certain changes in your diet. To this end, the dietitian on your transplant team will answer all your questions about your diet.

Some anti-rejection drugs may increase your appetite and cause weight gain. Maintaining a healthy weight with the help of diet and exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Consequently, you should monitor your calorie intake and avoid high-sugar or fatty meals. Your dietitian will provide you with a variety of meal options and help you include them in your diet.

Your dietitian may recommend the following after a kidney transplant:

  • Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day
  • Consuming fibrous foods
  • Avoid grapefruit
  • Prefer lean meats such as fish and poultry
  • Low salt and fat diet
  • Drinking enough water every day

Exercise after kidney transplant

After you recover, you should make exercise and physical activity a part of your life. Thus, you can continue to improve your overall physical and mental health.

Regular exercise increases your energy and strength. It also helps you maintain your weight, reduce stress, and prevent post-operative complications. You can control high blood pressure and cholesterol with exercise. Additionally, your transplant team creates a physical activity program based on your personal characteristics and needs.

Shortly after surgery, you should start walking. In fact, try to continually increase physical activity in your daily life. You should exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. Except for impact sports, start doing your favorite sports regularly for a healthy and active life. Sports such as walking, cycling, and swimming are very beneficial for protecting your health after a kidney transplant.

Lastly, you should quit smoking completely. Smoking greatly increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, and lung disease. Also, it is anti-healing. If you have difficulty quitting smoking, you can ask your doctor for help and you can use drugs to help you quit.

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