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Post Kidney Transplant Care

Healthy body's immune system is designed to keep healthy by sensing "foreign invaders," such as bacteria, and rejecting them. But immune system will also sense that transplanted kidney is foreign. To keep patient's body from rejecting it, kidney transplanted patient have to take drugs that turn off, or suppress, immune response.

Transplant Rejection:

Transplant rejection is a process in which a transplant recipient's immune system attacks the transplanted organ or tissue.

There are three types of rejection:

  • Hyperacute rejection occurs a few minutes after the transplant
  • Acute rejection may occur any time from the first week after the transplant to 3 months afterward.
  • Chronic rejection takes place over many years. The body's constant immune response against the new organ slowly damages the transplanted tissues or organ.

Symptoms of Kidney Transplant Rejection:

  • Less Urination
  • General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
  • Pain or swelling in the area of the organ (rare)
  • Fever (rare)
  • Flu-like symptoms, including chills, body aches, nausea, cough, and shortness of breath

Staying Healthy After Transplant

Kidney transplant recipients are more likely than someone without a transplant to develop:

  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Infections

Patient will need to take action to reduce your risk of these conditions.

Risk factors for Heart and Blood Vessel Disease

Even with a transplant, risk for heart and blood disease is higher than it is in a healthy person. What increases risk for heart and blood vessel disease?

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Enlarged heart
  • Anemia (low blood count)
  • Acute rejection of transplanted kidney
  • Reduced kidney function
  • Diabetes

Reduce Risk for Infections

As a transplant recipient, patient will be at risk for getting infections. Immunosuppressant medications make body's immune system less active. This helps to prevent rejection of new kidney, but makes it harder for body to fight off infections. Fifty percent of transplant recipients get an infection during the first year. Infections can be mild to life-threatening. Risk for infection will lessen over time. Understanding when you are most at risk - and why - can help.

    • Early Risk Period : The first 30 days after transplant is highest risk period for infection. Patient is in the hospital and getting large doses of immunosuppressant medications. Being in the hospital exposes patient to possible infection. The most common types are urinary tract infections, wound infections, and upper respiratory infections. Bacterial and yeast infections (a type of fungus) are less common.
    • Middle Risk Period : From two to six months after transplantation, immunosuppressant medications are being decreased, and the risk for rejection is high. Opportunistic infections are common.
    • Late Risk Period : The period after six months is fairly stable for most transplant recipients. Patient will be on your regular dose of immunosuppressant medications.

Maintain Good Nutrition

Good nutrition helps lower risk for diabetes and heart and blood vessel disease. It is the key to future good health. Studies show that diet may also be a factor in some cancers.

Personal diet may need to be changed to:

    • Prevent interactions between medications and certain foods
    • Help improve heart and blood vessel health
    • Help control diabetes
    • Help treat poor kidney function
    • Prevent excess weight loss or weight gain
    • Prevent poor nutrition
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