After receiving a new Kidney Transplant, those with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) want to resume their "normal lives." Though in many cases you may be able to resume the life you had before CKD, according to Columbia University Department of Surgery, "the key is moderation and understanding your limits." Based on the University of Minnesota Medical Center figures, approximately 6% of Kidney Transplant recipients lose their kidney within the first year, and just over 11% lose their transplant by year three. Although there is no guarantee that your transplanted kidney will not fail, there are mistakes you can avoid to improve your chances of transplant success.
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Driving and Traveling: The initial doses of the medications prescribed by your Transplant Team can cause tremors, weakness, and blurred vision which can make handling a car difficult, especially the fist 2 to four weeks after your transplant. Therefore, it is recommended that you do not drive until you are cleared to do so by your transplant team. This will help you avoid danger, stress and potential collisions. Also, travel outside the continental U.S. is not recommended for the first 6 to 12 months. Thereafter if you are traveling to an underdeveloped country it is recommended for you to consult your Nephrologists regarding vaccinations in order to avoid serious infection.
Not Getting Vaccinations: Post-transplant, annual flu shots are recommended after 1 year. You should only receive "dead virus" vaccinations because "live virus" vaccines, such as varicella or MMR, carry a risk of virus transmission in Kidney Transplant recipients. Care must be used in contact with family members who were recently immunized, especially infants receiving the polio vaccine, as the virus will be shed in their stool.
Skipping Routine Exams: After your Kidney Transplant you may feel as though your life is back to "normal." However, developing certain cancers is more common when taking immunosuppressive medications. Monthly breast and testicular self-examinations and routine medical check-ups are recommended. Also, skin cancer is more common in transplant recipients. Therefore, it is recommended that you limit sun exposure and see a dermatologist on an annual basis.
Neglecting Dental Work: Dental is effective in reducing the possibility of infection in the mouth. Although you may have received a dental consultation during your pre-transplant workup to be sure that any necessary dental work was completed before transplantation it is still extremely important that you practice good oral hygiene after receiving your transplant to avoid infections. Brush your teeth once or twice a day. You should floss your teeth after transplant, but flossing can irritate your gums and cause bleeding, so be gentle.
Altering Medication: Generic medications are generally fine, but those with CKD should check with their Transplant Team if their pharmacy recommends a substitution of any kind. Many medications and supplements will interact with your immunosuppressant drugs so always consult with the Transplant Team prior to taking any new tablets, or altering the dosage of immunosuppressants and other medicines prescribed.
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Limiting Exercise: After a successful kidney transplant, you may gain weight within the first year because of a less strict diet as well as a side effect of the steroid medications you are likely taking. By focusing on a healthful, balanced diet and exercising regularly, you can lose your post-transplant weight and improve the chances of long-term transplant survival. Avoid strenuous exercise or lifting weights until you have been cleared to do so by your Transplant Team.
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If you want to go to a movie or a social occasion and feel up to it, DO IT! If you would like to have friends visit you at home, that's OK too! KidneyBuzz.com encourages you to try as much as possible to return to your "normal routine." Initially, however, you will probably have less energy than you did before your Transplant Surgery. It will take time and careful monitoring on your part for your body to heal and adjust to your new medications. Napping and pacing your activities is recommended to prevent placing a strain on your recovery. Although there are some things outside of your control when it comes to a successful Kidney Transplant, you can empower yourself by doing everything within your control (such as the above strategies) as best as possible.
*Note: Do not forget to order your No BP/No Stick Medical Alert Bracelet!
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"Kidney Transplant Success Rates - University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview."Http://www.uofmmedicalcenter.org/. Fairview Health Services.
Johnson, Kimball, MD. "Dealing with Side Effects of Your Transplant."Http://www.webmd.com/. WebMD, LLC.
"Your Kidney Transplant Life After Kidney Transplantation."Http://www.columbiasurgery.org. Columbia University Medical Center.
Byrne, Jennifer. "How to Lose Weight After Kidney Transplant." LIVESTRONG.COM. Demand Media, Inc