What the Recipient Needs to Know About the Recovery Time From Kidney Transplant Surgery

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Duration of Recovery

The average length of time it takes to fully recover from kidney transplant surgery is about six months. However, these times may be shorter or longer and will depend on a variety of factors. The success of the operation, illness or infection, and other health conditions can considerably lengthen the duration of recovery. Typically, those receiving a kidney may find that it can take several months to a year before all regular daily activities can be resumed. During this time, the patient will be limited in what he or she can do.

First Days Following Surgery

The first initial days following surgery will be spent in the hospital. The patient can expect to stay for at least five to seven days for the healthcare team to monitor patient progress and response to the transplant. These first few days will be the most restricted. Ambulating, dressing and simple activities of daily living will may be limited and the patient will need some assistance. A longer hospital stay may be required if complications arise.


Lifting is one activity that may be restricted the longest. Until two to three months after surgery, it is not recommended to lift over twenty to thirty pounds. Only after four to six months can the patient lift above forty pounds, providing there have been no complications. Strenuous activity is also prohibited during this time. Driving is often restricted to at least six weeks post surgery and the patient may have to wait a few months before going back to work. These are only a few of the possible restrictions that may be necessary in order for the patient to recover following kidney transplant surgery. It is important to consult with the physician regarding restrictions during the recovery period and to clarify anything that isn’t completely understood.


Medications will play a critical role in recovery time from kidney transplant surgery. The kidney recipient will be prescribed medications, such as immunosuppressant drugs to help prevent rejection of the organ. This is whytaking medications as prescribed is an important part of recovery. Serious problems can arise if and when the patient fails to do so. While taking these medications, the patient should always get the okay from the physician before taking any other types of medications, prescription or over the counter. Reactions can occur, further delaying recovery and possibly causing complications. Even after recovery from kidney transplant surgery, the patient must continue to take immunosuppresants.

Follow Up

Although follow up is an important part of the recovery time from kidney transplant surgery, it is also a lasting process. During the first few months the patient should expect to have blood work frequently along with many checkups. However, follow up is a lifetime process. Screening for cancer, x-rays and blood work are necessary as well as medications.


Kidney Transplant Surgery Recovery. Cleveland Clinic. 15, September 2008. Viewed 15, July 2010. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/Kidney_Transplantation/hic_Kidney_Transplant_Surgery_Recovery.aspx

Kidney Transplant-Recovery. University of Maryland Medical Center. 22, June 2009. Viewed 15, July 2010. https://www.umm.edu/ency/article/003005rcv.htm