Resuming Activities After Kidney Transplant
Anxious to resume activities following transplant, many patients inquire about the timeline for their recovery. The following list describes different activities and recommendations about how and when to start. Because some people bounce back more quickly than others, it is important to listen to your body.
Diet and Nutrition Post-Transplant
Kidney transplant recipients are advised to follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet following their transplant. If you have high blood pressure, the Kidney Team may ask you to follow a low-sodium diet as well.
High potassium can be an issue after transplant, due to side effects of the anti-rejection medications. If this occurs, you will be asked to limit your potassium intake.
Exercise and Weight Management Post-Transplant
California Pacific Medical Center's Kidney Team recommends that patients begin light exercise immediately after transplant. This involves walking – and lots of it. Although patients may not be in the best physical shape because of previous kidney failure, they need to push themselves, even if the exercise is tiring. Riding a stationary bike offers a good source of exercise and can be started several weeks after transplant. By six weeks post-transplant, patients can start virtually any activity within reason. However, any new activity should be started slowly. If you are overweight, the Kidney Team will encourage you to lose weight and become more active.
Resuming Driving After Your Transplant
Most patients can resume driving about three to four weeks post-transplant. Before driving, ensure that your wound is healing well, that you are alert and not fatigued, no longer experiencing significant pain or taking medications that can cause drowsiness. The Kidney Team recommends that another adult driver accompany you on your first drive post-transplant.
Returning to Work After Kidney Transplant
Transplant patients can consider returning to work after about 6 weeks, although this timeline varies by individual. Some patients actually do some work earlier (if it involves low stress and little physical activity), while some need more time.
Sexual Activity Post-Transplant
Sexual activity may be resumed when your surgical staples are out, the incision has healed and when both the transplant patient and partner are agreeable. Patients may be more likely to conceive children after transplant and should be careful to use birth control and practice safe sex.
Sun Exposure Post-Transplant
Because transplant recipients are more likely to develop skin cancer, we recommend that all patients guard their skin from the sun. This involves always wearing clothing that protects the skin from sun exposure (including a brimmed hat) and sunblock on all exposed areas.
Being in Crowds and Germ Control After Kidney Transplant
Because transplant patients are taking medications that suppress their immune system, the concern about catching colds and other infections is real. However, we want our patients to enjoy their new life. Common sense works well here. If someone close to you is sick, keep your distance and wash your hands frequently if there has been contact. If you have prolonged exposure to a sick person, consider wearing an anti-microbial mask. In general, thorough hand washing is the best way to prevent infections.
Routine Health Screenings Post-Transplant
To best maintain your health following kidney transplantation, there are a number of important routine medical issues you need to address. Although these issues may not be directly related to your kidney transplant function, being aware of them can promote both your overall health and that of your kidney. We advise our kidney transplant recipients to follow our annual health exam recommendations, which include:
- Yearly Cholesterol Screening
- Yearly Assessment of Bone Density
- Routine Vaccinations
- all transplant patients should receive the flu shot each year
- all transplant patients should receive the pneumococcal pneumonia) vaccine every 3-5 years
- Routine Cancer Screenings (colonoscopy, skin cancer, mammogram, PAP smear, PSA)
- Previous: Maintaining a Healthy Transplant
- Next: What You Need to Know About Disability After Transplant
- Read More: Family Planning After Transplant
- Read More: Exercising After Transplant
- Read More: Healthy Diet Critical to Transplant Success
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
Outreach locations available throughout Northern California and in Reno.