Life After Kidney Transplant

Kidney transplant is preferable to lifelong dialysis as it usually provides a better quality of life. After initial 14 days, the risk of death is less in transplant recipients compared to patients on dialysis.

The human body tries to throw out the transplanted kidney as it is perceived as a foreign body by the tissues.

To overcome this tendency of the body, drugs are required to be taken lifelong by transplant recipients. These drugs are called immunosuppressives.

These drugs also reduce body’s reaction in case an infectious agent gains access to the body. Hence infections can occur more often, with smaller doses of bacteria and viruses. These infections may be severe and life threatening. At times bacteria and viruses which do not cause infections in other healthy individuals may also cause infections in transplant recipients.

These infections have to be suspected more often, investigated more aggressively and treated vigorously with appropriate antibiotics by a physician. In India, most  deaths take place with a functioning graft due to infections. Hence the importance of preventing these.

How to prevent infections in transplant recipients:

Infections spread by food, water, contact and by inhalation of droplets containing pathogens( bacteria, virus, fungi etc). They can also be introduced during surgery, by IV lines, tubes placed in the body and during various medical procedures.

Infections from water are prevented by drinking filtered / RO and clean water only. Tubewells, river, ponds, most municipal water in cities and towns may be having infectious agents. Hence it is not safe to drink untreated water. In case of dire necessity, boiled water as in tea can be consumed.

Food should be fresh, made from clean ingredients in clean utensils and consumed early. Food kept in refrigerator (especially as power cuts are common place) can be contaminated and when consumed may cause infectious diarrhoea.

Close contact of persons with obvious respiratory infections eg common cold, influenza, pneumonia, chickenpox, measles, sore throat etc should be avoided. Good quality masks (as used for preventing the spread of swine flu) are used for prevention of respiratory infections. Vaccines against pneumonia are similarly useful to protect against pneumonia.

Hygiene should be immaculate. In hospitals etc ensure absolute asepsis to prevent any infections during sampling, IV infusions, injections or surgical procedures.

If adequate care is taken a person can lead an active life. He can live a normal long, productive and useful life.

Next coming up

Various drugs after a transplant.