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    Losing Those Extra Pounds Makes Transplant Surgery Safer

    If you are overweight, losing some of those extra pounds prior to transplant will help improve your chance of success. Patients with a “normal” body mass index (BMI) experience an easier, safer surgery as well as reduced risks of wound infection, delayed wound healing and other complications such as blood clots. Additionally, diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure are all easier to manage when one is near his or her ideal weight. “At pre-transplant evaluation, we review one’s weight and may prescribe weight loss before we put a patient on ‘active status’ on the transplant waiting list,” explains William Bry, M.D., surgical director for California Pacific’s Kidney & Pancreas Transplant Program.

    The Role of BMI in Transplant

    California Pacific’s Kidney Team relies on the Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine if weight loss is necessary.This formula compares one’s height to weight ratio.Opens new window For transplant consideration, patients must have a BMI of less than 33 (a “normal” BMI is less than 24). If one’s weight is too high at evaluation, the Kidney Team will encourage a patient to work with the dietitian at his/her dialysis unit to lose those extra pounds. Once a BMI of less than 33 is achieved, a patient can become active on the waiting list.

    In cases of living donor transplants, both the donor and recipient should have a BMI of less than 33 (ideally 24 or lower). This enables surgeons to use minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to remove the kidney, which results in a quicker recovery and smaller incisions. If a donor has excess body weight, laparoscopic surgery may be more difficult and the surgeons may have to resort to open surgery for kidney removal.

    Weight Loss Tools

    Among the tools patients use for losing weight include:

    • Diet modification (low fat, cholesterol and salt; smaller portions)

    • Weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers®

    • Exercise

    • Nutrition counseling
    Not only does a weight management plan help one prepare for transplant, it also helps following surgery when anti-rejection medications can cause weight gain. “With fewer dietary restrictions, a better appetite and the medication Prednisone, many patients gain weight after transplant,” explains Bry. He adds, “By knowing in advance which foods are most healthy and those that contribute to high cholesterol and blood pressure, patients can better control their weight post-transplant.”

    About California Pacific Medical Center

    California Pacific Medical Center, part of the Sutter Health network, offers kidney, pancreas, liver and heart transplantation as part of our Barry S. Levin, MD Department of Transplant.

    Kidney & Pancreas Transplant Program
    California Pacific Medical Center
    2340 Clay Street
    San Francisco, CA 94115
    Tel. 415-600-1700

    Outreach locations available throughout Northern California and in Reno.