Throughout the entire transplantation process, the Cleveland Clinic transplant team ensures that you receive the best possible care. Team members are there each step of the way.
Your length of stay and recovery in the hospital will depend on a few factors including: type of transplant procedure, your body's acceptance of the new organ and your overall health. Remember, each patient has a different rate of recovery. You will be discharged only after your Transplant Team has determined that you have regained your strength and your health is stable.
Transplant team members are available after patients have returned home to provide additional information and answer questions. The team also can help with follow-up care, including routine blood testing, medication evaluation and adaptation, and visits to ensure that patients are doing well. Your transplant team will give you instructions on how and when to contact the post-transplant office following your discharge.
Taking Care of Yourself
Soon after surgery and during your stay in the hospital, your Transplant Team will teach you more about taking your new medicines. You will learn when to take your medicines, how to take them, what happens if you miss a dose, and what side effects the medicines might cause.
A daily record of your health is kept during your stay at the hospital, and you will need to continue monitoring your health when you go home. Before you leave, a nurse will teach you how to accurately measure both your liquid intake and urine output. To ensure that your kidney is functioning well, you will need to measure and record how much you drink and the amount you urinate for at least six weeks after the transplant surgery. You will also need to record your daily temperature, blood pressure, and weight.
When will I be able to go home?
Our goal is to help you feel comfortable and confident about taking care of yourself before you go home. Before going home, you will need to be able to:
- Follow your medicine schedule correctly without assistance
- Take your temperature and blood pressure
- Keep track of and record your fluid intake and urine output
- Know whom to call for an emergency appointment
- Know what problems should be reported to the transplant coordinator
The Transplant Team will be monitoring your health closely after the transplant and during your follow up appointments. Therefore, it is very important to keep your scheduled lab and follow-up appointments.
How should I take care of myself once I go home?
Once you are discharged home, you will need to continue recording your daily temperature, blood pressure and weight in a notebook. It is also very important to keep your list of medications updated.
Remember to keep the records in your notebook for at least six weeks, or longer if you have complications. The Transplant Team will let you know when it is okay to stop recording this information. Remember to always bring your post-transplant notebook and medicines to each Transplant Clinic visit.
What will I need before I go home?
It is important to make sure you have each of these before you go home:
- Blood pressure cuff
- Medication organizer
To decrease the chance of infection, you must avoid people with colds or flu for at least three months. By avoiding illness now, you will be able to return to an active life within a few months.
Tips for a Healthy Transplant Recovery
- Take all your medicines exactly as prescribed
- Keep all of your scheduled appointments with the Transplant Team
- Call the Transplant Team if you have any questions or concerns
- Have your blood drawn promptly, as recommended by the Transplant Team
- Follow your recommended dietary plan
- Follow your recommended fluid intake
- Follow your recommended exercise plan
- Avoid being around anyone who has an infection
Call the Transplant Team if you experience any of the following
- A fever higher than 100°F (38°C)
- Flu-like symptoms such as chills, aches, headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting
- New pain or tenderness around the transplant
- Fluid retention (swelling)
- Sudden weight gain greater than 4 pounds within a 24-hour period
- Significant decrease in urine output
What You Need to Know About Kidney Transplant Rejection
What is transplant rejection?
One of the most common complications following a kidney transplant is rejection. Rejection is your body’s way of not accepting the new kidney. Although rejection is most common in the first six months after surgery, it can occur at any time.
Fortunately, the Transplant Team can usually recognize a rejection episode before it causes any major or irreversible damage. It is very important for you to continuously take your medications as prescribed and have your blood work drawn as scheduled.
What are the warning signs of possible rejection?
It is vital for you to be aware of the possible signs of kidney rejection. If you think you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact the Transplant Team immediately:
- Fever over 100°F (38°C)
- "Flu-like" symptoms: chills, aches, headache, dizziness, nausea and/or vomiting
- New pain or tenderness around the kidney
- Fluid retention (swelling)
- Sudden weight gain greater than 2 to 4 pounds within a 24-hour period
- Significant decrease in urine output
How is rejection identified?
The Transplant Team will be able to determine if your body is rejecting your kidney by completing routine tests of kidney function. If the Team thinks you may be experiencing any problems with your new kidney, the following tests may be completed:
- Repeated blood work
- Renal flow scan (which checks blood flow to the kidney)
- Renal ultrasound (which checks for other physical problems)
- Kidney biopsy
What is a kidney biopsy?
- A kidney biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of kidney tissue is removed and tested.
- A kidney biopsy is usually performed on an outpatient basis.
- In order to take a biopsy, or a small sample of tissue, the skin above your kidney is numbed to allow a small needle to pass directly through to your kidney. Ultrasound is used to determine the appropriate location to biopsy.
- Once complete, a microscope is used to examine the sample of tissue and establish a diagnosis.
- The actual biopsy generally takes between 20 to 30 minutes.
- You will be required to lie flat for two hours following the procedure to prevent bleeding.
How is rejection treated?
If rejection develops, your physician may prescribe medications to treat rejection and prevent continued complications. In order to control the rejection, you may need to be admitted to the hospital, or you may receive care in the outpatient setting.
Will rejection treatment cause side effects?
The medications used to treat a kidney rejection episode are strong drugs. The first few doses may cause the following side effects:
- Fever, chills
- Nausea, vomiting
- General flu-like symptoms
To help control these symptoms, you may receive a pre-medication of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and diphenhydramine hydrochloride (Benadryl) before each dose.