How to Recover From a Kidney Transplant at Home

A kidney transplant involves major surgery, and recovery will take time and effort. Each person's recovery is different, but both physical and emotional adjustments will occur during the first year after a kidney transplant. While most people feel back to normal in a few months, understanding the process of kidney transplant recovery can help you avoid complications once you're home.


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    Stay in close contact with your physician and transplant team within the first few weeks after you are discharged from the hospital. Daily visits may be necessary in the period immediately following your discharge, so doctors can check for infection stemming from your new kidney, or even rejection.
    • After a few weeks have passed, you may still need follow-up care at your transplant clinic site several times a year, or at least once a year for the next several years, depending on your health status. You may also be allowed to follow-up with your primary care physician for certain matters.
    • Your doctor may ask you to take certain vital signs daily and report back to the clinic. You may need to take your weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse and blood sugar if you are a diabetic.
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    Take your medications as prescribed. You must be on medication for the rest of your life to prevent kidney rejection.
    • Wear sunscreen and protective clothing while out in the sun, as the anti-rejection medication will make your skin more sensitive.
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    Change your diet to help speed your recovery[1]
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    • Eat better – avoid fatty foods, sugar-filled drinks and snacks, and processed carbohydrates. Instead opt for unrefined carbohydrates, snack on fruits and drink water.
    • Drink more – Your body needs more water when recovering from trauma such as surgery. Water will help your body in many ways. Drink more!
    • Eat more proteins – proteins are the building blocks of your body; eat more proteins to give your body all it needs to recover. Eat more lean meats, fish, beans, tofu, yogurt and eggs.
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    Exercise daily or as permitted by your doctors. However you must avoid lifting heavy objects or performing any strenuous activities for the first 6 months after your transplant.
    • Begin with walking and stretching. As you continue to heal, you'll be able to add in cycling, golf, swimming, jogging and tennis. However, you must avoid contact sports.
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    Talk to a counselor or mental health professional if you are having a hard time coping with anxiety. Many transplant patients report experiencing anxiety they wait and hope for their health to improve after surgery.
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    Avoid sources of infection for the first few months at home. Wash your hands thoroughly and often, and avoid crowds where you could come in contact with people who are ill.
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    Discuss when you can return to work with your doctor. Often times, patients are permitted to return to work within a few months following a transplant. Some doctors may provide a letter authorizing you to return to work.


  • Be aware that you are at an increased risk for certain types of cancer, diabetes, infections, high blood pressure and high cholesterol after receiving a kidney transplant. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can mitigate your risk of developing these conditions.
  • You aren't allowed to drive for 6 weeks after your transplant surgery so make the proper arrangements for transportation.
  • For women, avoid getting pregnant within the first year following your transplant. Pregnancy can cause high blood pressure and a risk of kidney rejection. You may be able to get pregnant later; however, you won't be able to breast feed due to the anti-rejection medication you must continue to take daily.

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Categories: Pain Management and Recovery