Treatments & Procedures

Recovering From a Kidney Transplant

Recovery from a kidney transplant is different for everyone. The recovery period begins immediately after the surgery and medical teams will keep a close eye on you to ensure you are recovering properly.

Transplanted kidneys often begin working immediately after surgery, and patients can leave hospital after just a few 4 days. Sometimes, dialysis is needed until the kidneys are functioning properly, and the stay in hospital can be a little longer. Overall recovery is usually around 6 weeks.

In this article, experts from our Kidney Transplant Program offer some guidance to help ensure your recovery is as healthy as possible so you can return to a fulfilling life as soon as possible.

Closely Follow Medication Guidelines

As with any surgery, following instructions from your doctor on medication is very important. Your body will treat a transplanted organ as a foreign object, so you will be given anti-rejection medication. It is very important that you take this medication to prevent this happening.

There are also certain medications that you shouldn’t take while recovering from a transplant. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which includes commonly used ibuprofen and naproxen, should not be taken as they can cause kidney dysfunction. Your doctor may also recommend avoiding antihistamines, antacids, and certain herbal supplements like St. John’s wort, Schisandra and herbal teas, as they can all interact with your transplant medication.

Attend All Follow Up Appointments

Your medical team will schedule a number of follow-up appointments following your transplant surgery to check on your recovery, and it is vital that you attend these.

It’s also important that you report any unusual symptoms to your doctors immediately, as you may be more prone to serious infections following a transplant or you may experience side effects of medication. Symptoms such as a high fever, flu-like symptoms, swelling, pain in the kidney area or decreased urination, should all be checked out by a doctor immediately.

Take it Easy

Doctors advise taking it easy for at least 6 weeks following a kidney transplant. Perhaps even longer if you have experienced any complications. You should avoid any strenuous activities such as lifting heavy objects or any physical work. Driving is also a no-no for 6 weeks, as it can affect your wound.

Exercise Slowly

Whilst strenuous activities are off the cards, gentle exercise can be very beneficial to your recovery. Your medical team will discuss this with you in detail and advise gentle activities such as walking and stretching to begin with, slowly building up to other physical activities when you are ready.

Eat and Drink Well

Hydration is key to any type of recovery, so try and drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and limit caffeine intake. Eat lots of protein as this will help you to build muscle and body mass in a healthy way.

Avoid risky foods such as undercooked meat or eggs. Transplant patients will have a weakened immune system following surgery, and these types of food pose a greater risk of serious illness. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice should be avoided as it can interfere with immunosuppressant medication.

Kidney transplants offer most patients a full and healthy life. By looking after yourself following surgery, you give your body the best chance of a healthy recovery.

A Second Chance at Life. Multidisciplinary transplant experts from our Transplant Center provide complex and compassionate care Learn more about the life-changing surgeries performed at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

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