Support information for kidney transplant patients

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What to expect after the operation

After the kidney transplant operation, you will be transferred to the High Dependency Unit at Hammersmith hospital. Where you will be expected to spend atleast seven days. During this period, you will:

  • Have a tube in your neck to measure your fluid and give you fluid on a temporary basis
  • Small tubes in your hand to administer medication, pain relief and to give you extra fluids if needed
  • Plastic tube on your abdomen, which will remove any excess blood or fluid from the operation
  • A tube in your bladder that passes through the urethra to help drain urine to monitor your fluid balance and to check how well the kidney is working

Most of these tubes will come out around day 3. You will have a stent placed between your bladder and new transplanted kidney, which is a plastic tube that helps to maintain the flow of urine whilst the operation is healing. This tube will be removed as a day case in clinic in a non-invasive procedure 6 weeks after the operation.

Possible complications post-transplant tab:

Whilst Kidney transplantation is a successful treatment for kidney failure, there is always a possibility that complications can occur. Your transplant team are here to work in partnership with you and to help and reduce any chance of you experiencing any complications and to treat these immediately. 

In order to reduce these risks, you must pay attention to your body and inform the team of any problems, as most of the time these can be resolved effectively. Please inform your team of any problems.

When to contact the clinic post-transplant:

  • Swollen legs
  • If your dressing is leaking post-transplant
  • If your urine output has decreased
  • Body swelling
  • If you are running low on medication
  • If you need advice on how to take medication 
  • If you have any questions regarding what to eat/how much to drink
  • If you have a considerate amount of blood leaking out of your wound 
  • If you are experiencing extreme abdominal pain

When to attend A&E:

  • If you have a considerate amount of blood leaking out of your wound
  • Sensation of fainting associated with low blood pressure
  • If you are experiencing extreme abdominal pain
  • When to call the Renal Assessment Unit:
  • If you are feeling pain passing urine, blood in your urine
  • If you are experiencing abdominal pain
  • Low grade temperature
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Vomiting 

Download the Medicines commonly taken by people after a transplant or with an auto-immune disease support guide.

Dietary information:

Do I need to see a dietician? 

A kidney transplant can bring around a whole host of changes  to your lifestyle and wellbeing.  Some of the benefits of a kidney transplant is a larger appetite and being able to enjoy a more varied diet.  If you have had a kidney transplant, a kidney dietitian will visit you on the ward to discuss diet and lifestyle management.  Following a healthy diet and lifestyle both before and after your transplant will help to keep you healthy, protect your new kidney and prevent unwanted weight gain.  

When you attend clinic following your kidney transplant, you may be referred to see a kidney Dietitian for further dietary advice.
When would I need to see a Dietitian?

  • If you have raised levels of potassium (more than 5.5mmol/L) in your blood
  • If you have raised levels ofphosphate (more than 1.5mmol/L) in your blood
  • If you are trying to manage several diet related conditions with your kidney transplant such as diabetes 

You can speaking to your Dialysis Nurse or Doctor about seeing a dietitian.

How does immunosuppression affect my diet?

If you are taking immunosuppressive medication, you can be at increased risk of all types of infections, including those that come from food and drink.  

Tips to guide safe eating:

  • Regularly wash your hands when preparing and eating food 
  • Prepare and store raw and cooked items separately and make sure to thoroughly cook raw meat, chicken, fish and eggs.
  • Familiarise yourself with the high risk food items to avoid initially after your transplant (see the leaflet below)
  • Avoid probiotic or live cultured yogurts such as Actimel or Yakult 

Some reminders for your immunosuppressive medication:

  • Exclude Grapefruit, pomelo, seville oranges, pomegranate and pomegranate juice from your diet as they can interact with your medications
  • Take your immunosuppressive medication on an empty stomach 
  • Follow the information leaflet included in the medication box provided by your pharmacist

Helpful links and further information:

Food Hygiene Ratings: find out the Food hygiene ratings for your local restaurants and pubs.

Preventing unwanted weight gain after your transplant 

Unwanted weight gain is common after transplantation and it is likely that you will need to make changed to your diet and lifestyle to prevent this.

Top tips for preventing weight gain:

  • Aim to follow the Eat Well healthy eating guide and snacking 
  • Include a moderate portion of starchy foods with every meal for example grains, pasta, wholegrain bread, cereals and potatoes – avoid large portion size
  • Fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals and increase your fibre intake, aim to include at least 5 portions every day 
  • A great way to reduce your sugar intake it to limit fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and desserts
  • To protect your heart, include healthy fats in small amounts e.g. olive, rapeseed and sunflower fats
  • Make sure you get enough calcium in the form of milk, fortified plant based milks, nuts and seeds
  • Include foods rich in magnesium such as green leafy vegetables, fish, meat, nuts and pulses.

The following tips are a good place to start if working towards achieving a healthy weight for your height is important to you:

  • Aim to lose weight slowly over time to lower the chances of re-gaining – we suggest 0.5kg to 1kg (1lb to 2lb) as a healthy rate of weight loss 
  • Even small amounts of weight loss have a positive effect
  • Losing 5-10% of your body weight will give health benefits such as improved diabetes control as well as lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol#

Your Body Mass Index is a good way of checking your ideal weight for height.  You can check your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Helpful links and further information:

Exercise and Physical Activity:

  • Having an active lifestyle can boost your well-being, your mood and improve your long term health.  
  • Exercises such as walking, keep-fit classes and sport, improves your fitness, bone density and helps to prevent osteoporosis. 
  • Remember to check with your renal team about what exercise is suitable for you 
  • Alternatively a visit to your GP or practice nurse may help to identify more simple and healthy lifestyle changes

Helpful links and further information: