What happens after discharge?
After your kidney transplant, you can expect to:
- Spend several days to a week in the hospital. Doctors and nurses monitor your condition in the hospital’s transplant recovery area to watch for signs of complications. Your new kidney will make urine like your own kidneys did when they were healthy. Often this starts immediately. In other cases, it may take several days, and you may need temporary dialysis until your new kidneys begin to function properly. Expect soreness or pain around the incision site while you’re healing. Most kidney transplant recipients can return to work and other normal activities within eight weeks after transplant. No lifting objects weighing more than 10 pounds or exercise other than walking until the wound has healed (usually about six weeks after surgery).
- Have frequent checkups as you continue recovering. After you leave the hospital, close monitoring is necessary for a few weeks to check how well your new kidney is working and to make sure your body is not rejecting it. You may need blood tests several times a week and have your medications adjusted in the weeks following your transplant. During this time, if you live in another town, you may need to make arrangements to stay near the transplant center.
- Take medications for the rest of your life. You’ll take a number of medications after your kidney transplant. Drugs called immunosuppressants (anti-rejection medications) help keep your immune system from attacking and rejecting your new kidney. Additional drugs help reduce the risk of other complications, such as infection, after your transplant.
- What if my body tries to reject the new kidney?
The chances of having a rejection episode are highest right after your surgery. The longer you have the kidney, the lower the chance that this will happen. Unfortunately, sometimes a rejection episode happens even if you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do. Sometimes the body just doesn’t accept the transplanted kidney. But even if a rejection episode happens, there are many ways to treat it so you do not lose your transplant. Letting your transplant team know right away that you think you have symptoms of rejection is very important.
- When can I return to work?
How soon you can return to work depends on your recovery, the kind of work you do, and your other medical conditions. Many people can return to work eight weeks or more after their transplant. Your transplant team will help you decide when you can go back to work.