After returning home following a kidney transplant, you will want to resume your healthy living. Kidney transplant patients can live a normal life. The key to success here is understanding your limitations and practicing moderation. Initially, you will have less energy. Note that it usually takes time for the body to heal and adapt to the medications after a transplant. This content answers several questions about recovery after receiving and donating a kidney.
What is Emergency Medical Identification?
After receiving a kidney, you must wear a medical identification necklace or bracelet all the time. Indicate on the document that you have received a kidney. Include your doctor’s phone number on the form. If the patient is a child, his or her parents’ or guardian’s must include their names and contact phone number.
How Do You Handle Your Prescriptions?
Your transplantation team may recommend a pharmacy that will provide your monthly medications to your home. The insurance agency that issues your medication plan will pre-approve using this service. Note that many drugs will counteract with the immunosuppressants, which is why you must consult with your transplant team before taking new medications or altering your dosage requirements for immunosuppressants.
Is it OK To Exercise After A Transplant?
Exercise is important for transplant patients and enables a faster return to their routine ultimately helping them maintain an improved overall health. It will help control your cholesterol levels, weight, and blood pressure. Exercise releases tension helps to boost energy and encourages positive lifestyle habits (like maintaining a healthy dietary plan).
When Should You Return To School or Work After Receiving A kidney?
Although after the transplant you will need to make a full recovery before any other thing, you should return to work or school two months after the operation. Your transplant team can also decide the best option for you.
When Can You Start Driving Again?
You won’t be allowed to drive for two to four weeks following the transplant. Speak with your doctor before driving after your transplantation.
When Can You Travel After Your Transplant?
You cannot travel in the first two or three months after the operation. If you will travel to an underdeveloped country consult your doctor regarding which vaccinations you can take and the kind of food and water in that area that you must avoid.
Why is Routine Self-examination Important After A Kidney Transplant?
Developing cancers is common when taking immunosuppressants. For this reason, a monthly testicular and breast self-examination as well as going for routine medical check-ups is recommended. PAP smears, testicular exams, breast exams, and skin cancer screening must be done yearly by your physician.
What is Organ Rejection?
Organ rejection is the most essential and common complication that can occur after a transplant. Because you weren’t born with the transplanted organ, your body will see this new tissue as foreign and will attack it to protect you.
What Are The Types of Organ Rejection?
- Acute Rejection: Typically occurs during the first year following a transplant and is usually successfully treated.
- Chronic Rejection: This type of rejection occurs slowly over an extended period and treatment is often unsuccessful.
What are Anti-rejection Medications And Why Are They Important To A Kidney Recipient?
Anti-rejection medication also known as immunosuppressants typically decrease the body’s immune response to foreign bodies (a transplanted kidney). These medications lower your immune system thus preventing your body from rejecting the transplanted kidney. Kidney rejection is difficult to diagnose especially in the early stages. Never quit your medication no matter how great you feel or if you think the transplanted kidney is functioning optimally because stopping or missing these drugs can result in rejection.
Do Immunosuppressants Have Adverse-effects?
Anti-rejection medications come with several side-effects which are typically manageable. Blood levels will need to be checked regularly to avoid rejection and lessen the side-effects. If there are any side-effects, your physician can change the dosage or medications. The most common adverse-effects of immunosuppressants include high blood pressure, weight gain, increased the chance of infections, and the risk of several cancers.
How Can You Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle After Receiving A Kidney?
Discovering and treating infections early is the ideal way to stay healthy. Exposure to infections like flu or pneumonia will make you critically ill. Receiving vaccines as prescribed by your transplantation team can also help you keep your transplanted kidney healthy. It is paramount to do the following if you want to live a healthy lifestyle and avoid infections:
- Regularly wash your hands.
- Maintain good hygiene especially around your pets.
- Don’t get too close to people with contagious diseases.
- Avoid close contact with recently vaccinated children. Make sure that no one in your home gets the nasal influenza vaccination.
- Practice safe food handling.
- Make sure your doctor is informed well in advance about any travel plans you may have.
What Are The Chances of Developing New-Onset Diabetes Following A Transplant?
The chances of developing new-onset diabetes after transplantation will be higher for people who are overweight. Your chances are increased if there are others who are diabetic in your family.
What is New-Onset Diabetes?
Even if you didn’t have diabetes prior to the operation, you might develop diabetes after your transplant. This kind of diabetes is known as new-onset diabetes and usually occurs as a side effect of organ rejection medications.
How Can You Know Your Blood Sugar?
Your blood sugar levels should be monitored while you are in hospital following the transplant. If needed, your doctor will help to develop a plan that will help you checkmate your blood sugar levels.
How Can I Keep My Blood Sugar in Check If I Have Diabetes?
Your transplantation team will tell you how to manage your blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can be managed by:
- A carbohydrate-controlled die.
- Diabetes medication.
What Are The Chances of Developing Heart Disease After Receiving A Kidney?
Patients who receive kidney transplants are typically at greater risk of developing heart disease. You can reduce your chances of developing heart disease after the operation by:
- Controlling your blood pressure.
- Managing your cholesterol and blood lipid levels.
- Quit smoking.
- Routine exercise, as specified by your physician.
- Maintain a healthy weight by sticking to a healthy dietary plan.
- If you are diabetic, make sure it is well controlled.
What Are The Chances of Developing High Blood Pressure After Transplantation?
If you already had high blood pressure prior to getting your transplanted kidney, the chances are that it will likely continue after your operation. High blood pressure may also be triggered as a side-effect caused by the use of anti-rejection medications. It can also be a sign of organ rejection or being overweight (typically due to weight gain after your transplant).
How Can Your Blood Pressure Be Controlled?
Your physician will help you keep your blood pressure in check after transplantation. High blood pressure can be typically managed by doing the following:
- Maintaining a healthy weight by practicing regular exercise.
- Consuming low salt diet.
- Using blood pressure medication.
What Are The Chances of Getting Anemia After A Transplant?
Following receiving a kidney transplant you might start to develop anemia (also known as reduced production of red blood cell) due to the operation, a side-effect of the medication, abnormal breakdown of red blood cells, infection, or organ rejection. Use of blood pressure medication can also cause the body to produce fewer amounts of red blood cells. Mild anemia can result in minor issues like tiredness and pale skin. If untreated, anemia can lead to a lower amount of oxygen getting to the organs ultimately resulting in serious health problems like heart failure.
How Can You Cope With Anemia?
If you develop anemia, your physician may prescribe an increased intake of iron supplements or other medications. Note that there are many options for iron pills; if you don’t tolerate one iron supplement, speak to your doctor about other choices. He or she will help you decide the best treatment for your condition. It is also crucial to maintain a healthy dietary plan.
Recovery After Kidney Donation
Recovery after organ donation is less demanding than that of someone who received an organ. It is a straightforward process.
How Long Does it Take To Recover And Return To My Normal Activities After Donating A Kidney?
The length of time that a donor needs to stay in the hospital and recover varies depending on each donor’s recovery rate and the kind of surgery performed although the usual range of time to stay in the hospital is four to six days. Since recovery varies among individuals, make sure you ask the transplant center to give you an estimate of your recovery time. After returning home from the hospital, you will typically feel itching, tenderness, and pain, as the incision were the surgery, was conducted on continues to heal. Heavy lifting isn’t recommended for at least six weeks after surgery. It is crucial for a donor to talk to the transplantation staff about the best possible ways to return to normal life as quickly as possible.
Does Living Donation Have Any Impact on The Donor?
A donor can live a healthy life with just a single kidney as long as they are thoroughly evaluated and cleared for donation. When one kidney is removed, the size of the remaining single kidney will increase to compensate for the loss of one kidney. Physical exercise is recommended. However, it is essential for people with one kidney to protect it from any form of injury. Some doctors feel that it is better to avoid sports like football, martial arts, boxing, hockey, soccer, or wrestling. Using protective gear like padded vests under your clothing can help you protect the single kidney from injury. Donors are encouraged to initiate a good medical follow-up on the long-term with their primary care physician.
Are There Any Long-Term Risks Associated With Organ Donation?
Yes, there are several reasons for risks associated with donation. You will have a permanent scar from the operation. The location and of this scar will rely on the kind of operation you have. Several donors have reportedly experienced long-term issues with pain, hernia, nerve damage, or intestinal obstruction. The risks may seem rare, and there isn’t any national statistical data on these problems. However, people who have only one kidney are at a higher risk of developing:
- High blood pressure.
- Reduced kidney function.
Discuss these risks with the transplant team before moving forward. Ask for specific stats related to these issues if there are any available.
What if I Donate A Kidney And Need a Transplant Later?
Potential donors must discuss with the transplantation team about this issue. Tell your doctors about any pre-existing medical condition or factors that can put you at a greater risk of getting kidney disease. Consider the outcome of this decision carefully before deciding about donation. There have been several cases where living donors eventually needed a kidney (not necessarily caused by the donation).