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After Kidney Transplant

A successfully transplanted kidney works like a normal kidney to filter your blood. You won't need dialysis. But you will need to take medicines to keep your new kidney healthy.

Talk with your healthcare team about your medicines. Discuss any guidelines you will need to follow to keep your new kidney working right. Make a list of questions you have about your medicines. Bring them to your appointments. This helps you remember to get all of your questions answered.

Preventing rejection

The body's immune system attacks germs and prevents infection. Because the transplanted kidney is not a natural part of your body, your body's immune system may attack it. This is called rejection. Certain medicines can help keep rejection from happening. You must take these antirejection medicines for the rest of your life.

Man taking pill out of pill organizer.
Many medications may be needed to keep your new kidney healthy.

Treating rejection

Organ rejection is detected and confirmed by doing a kidney biopsy. A small sample of kidney tissue is removed through a needle and checked by a specialist called a pathologist. Biopsy is done under local anesthesia. This means medicines are used to numb the area where the needle will be put into your body. If rejection does happen, treatment may stop it. If it can't be stopped, your new kidney will no longer work. You will then need dialysis to keep you alive. In time, you may also be able to have a second transplant.

Possible side effects of transplant medicines

Medicines to prevent rejection can have many side effects. The medicines weaken the immune system, so you may get more infections. They may also be more serious. Talk with your healthcare provider about these and other possible side effects.

Possible complications

Kidney transplant surgery, like any surgery, can have complications in the period right after the operation. Also, there is always the risk that the new kidney will be rejected. The antirejection medicines have some possible complications that include infections and some types of cancer. Your healthcare provider can talk with you about this in more detail.

Eating and drinking

If the kidney stays healthy, you won't need dialysis. This means you will have more choices about what to eat and drink. A dietitian can teach you and your family members what guidelines you need to follow.

Special precautions

  • Take your medicines as directed. If you don't, your new kidney will stop working. Then you will need dialysis again. Consider using a pill tray and electronic reminders so you won't forget any doses.

  • Visit your healthcare provider regularly for blood tests. These check how well your kidney and transplant medicines are working. Keep all of your follow-up appointments.

  • Call your healthcare provider right away if you get any kind of infection, have any questions about your medicines, or have any new symptoms.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.