Exercise has several benefits for those who have undergone the kidney transplant procedure. Although you should not exercise vigorously unless approved by your doctor, moderate exercise can help you improve your heart and lung function, increase muscle tone, reduce weight and control cholesterol levels. Cholesterol also improves energy levels and releases stress. Start out by walking 15 to 20 minutes each day, as recommended by Columbia University Medical Center. Your doctor will let you know when you can lift weights and perform other vigorous exercises.
In addition to your immune suppressants, you may have to take other drugs designed to reduce the complications of kidney transplant surgery. If your insurance company will approve home delivery of your prescriptions, you may want to take advantage of such a service. You may not feel well enough to pick up your medications at the pharmacy at the beginning of your recovery. Those on immune suppressants also have an increased risk of infection, so going out into public is discouraged during the transplant recovery period.
Wearing an emergency medical bracelet or pendant can protect you in the event of a medical emergency following a kidney transplant. If you have a medical crisis while you are shopping or eating at a restaurant, the bracelet will let emergency responders know about your medical condition. You should list your transplant status and the fact that you take immune suppressants on the bracelet or necklace. You should also write the telephone numbers of your primary care physician and transplant surgeon on your medical identification tag.
Return to Work
Many kidney transplant patients wonder when they can return to work or school following a transplant. Because of the immune suppressants used to reduce the risk of organ rejection, an immediate return to work or school is not possible. Transplant recipients should expect to return to work or school within two months. This date can change based on any complications or health problems experienced during the recovery period.
During the recovery period, regular medical care is an important part of post kidney transplant care. The use of immune suppressants increases the risk for some types of cancers, so yearly pap smears, skin cancer screenings, testicular exams and clinical breast exams are important. You should also perform breast or testicular self-exams on a monthly basis. If you visit your primary care physician, ask one of the office staff to send all reports to your transplant team.
Transplant recipients should not travel during the first two to three months of the recovery period. Decreased immune resistance makes it more likely that a transplant recipient will develop an infection when exposed to other people or when traveling in confined spaces like airplanes and trains. International travel is discouraged for six to 12 months after the transplant. If you must travel, discuss your travel plans with a physician. A doctor can recommend the appropriate precautions for domestic or international travel.
Having a chronic illness and undergoing a kidney transplant take a toll on a transplant patient’s mental health. Receiving counseling or other psychological services during the post kidney transplant care period can reduce the psychological impact of receiving a transplanted kidney.
Columbia University Medical Center: Resuming Life After Kidney Transplantation
Loma Linda University Medical Center: Post Kidney Transplant