The postoperative period is focused on preventing rejection and optimizing function of the new kidney, as well as preventing post-surgical complications. The hospital stay for a kidney transplant patient is usually between two to 10 days.
Drug Therapy to Prevent Rejection
Drug therapy is the most common treatment to prevent rejection of the transplanted kidney. Special medicines known as "immunosuppressive drugs" stop the body's immune system from recognizing and attacking the new, "foreign" kidney. The exact combination and dosage of these immunosuppressive drugs is tailored to the unique circumstances of each patient. Levels of these drugs in the patient's blood are carefully monitored to ensure each patient is receiving the immuno-suppression appropriate for them.
Kidney function is also carefully monitored in order to detect any evidence of rejection as early as possible. The frequency of this testing diminishes over time as the patient stabilizes and the risk of rejection decreases.
Life After Kidney Transplant
Patients with successful kidney transplants can usually lead normal, active lives. However, transplant recipients do need to take special precautions during the first year to help ensure long-term outcomes.
These precautions include:
- Reducing your risk of injury by:
- Making sure you walk on a regular schedule every day
- Not lifting objects over five lbs. for the first eight weeks
- Gradually increasing activity and exercise after eight weeks
- Reducing your risk of infection by:
- Washing your hands frequently and maintaining general cleanliness
- Avoiding large crowds the first month
- Avoiding contact with cat litter boxes, birds and bird cages
- Avoiding gardening or farming activity for at least one year
- You may resume sexual activity as desired three weeks after surgery unless otherwise advised, but delay pregnancy one to two years after transplantation, and only with consultation with the transplant center to discuss risks.