Life after a kidney transplant: these are the recommendations you should have after surgery

Following a few simple recommendations, you can gradually return to normal life.

Although this is a complicated procedure, receiving a kidney transplant means a new life opportunity, with more freedom, time and autonomy. But on top of that, a transplant also involves taking care of your new kidney. We spoke with Rafael Alberto Gómez, Regional Medical Manager of Baxter RCS, who gives some recommendations to those who have already received their transplant or are about to do so.

The first thing to understand is that kidney transplantation involves the use of several medications that will prevent the patient from rejecting that kidney he has received. And this keeps the patient in a state of immunosuppression, which means low defenses. This factor is decisive when talking about the food a person is able to consume when has just pass through this procedure.

"Initially, when the degree of immunosuppression is higher, the patient should avoid raw foods, unprocessed cheeses (whites), and foods of unknown origin, that is, food outside the home," says Dr Rafael, who adds that: "although you can and should consume fruits and vegetables, these should be washed properly".

To keep that new kidney in good condition, the newly transplanted person should also follow a low-fat diet, avoid oil-fried foods and eat salt moderately, which means to only consume about 2 or 3 grams a day.

The expert also recommends eating mainly white meat and fish. And what about those who love red meat?  These people can eat this type of meat, but should not exceed 300 grams per week.

The doctor adds that “overweight and obesity should be avoided since it increases the cardiovascular risk. In addition, fluid intake should be sufficient to maintain an adequate hydration state. And although it is not clearly defined what is the optimal volume of liquids, is necessary to consume 1.5 and 2.5 liters per day, talking about liquids in general.

A common mistake that transplanted people make is to think that over time they will be able to consume more and more sugars, salts, foods rich in carbohydrates and fats. But the truth is that these recommendations must be maintained throughout life to be always healthy.

Physical activity is very important for the transplanted patient

Like a good diet, a person who has gone through a kidney transplant must be physically active in a constant way. After surgery it should be mild, but over time the intensity may increase.

"In the first three months gentle exercise, such as walking, is recommended to avoid problems with surgical wound healing. Once this time is over, you can increase the frequency and requirement of exercise. There are even some high-performance athletes who have had kidney transplants and have continued their sport. In general, the recommendation is to have physical activity at least 150 minutes per week to reduce cardiovascular complications," adds the doctor.

Avoid public places

Ideally, a newly transplanted person should try to stay at home most of the time and avoid frequenting public places such as cinemas, airports, schools or the transportation system. This, because their defenses are very low and could relapse.

"If you need to leave, you should use permanent caps and avoid close contact with other people. In addition, patients who are going to have renal transplant or who are already transplanted, must have their complete vaccination schedule for covid-19 (any of the available vaccines), and have other vaccines such as influenza and pneumococcus," says the expert.

Getting back to normality

A successful kidney transplant manages to restore the patient’s kidney function, which means that he will no longer need to continue dialysis. Also, if you had sexual problems in the past, they are likely to get better and you can regain this aspect of your life.

Alarm signals to take into account

Because transplantation is a complex procedure, it can lead to some subsequent complications. In that sense, it is best to visit the doctor when presenting the following symptoms: excessive pain over the area, hard consistency of the graft, appearance of urine with blood and decrease in urinary volume.
"There are also symptoms related to infectious processes such as fever, burning feeling when urinating, respiratory symptoms, etc. Any of these symptoms involve an urgent visit to the transplant center," concluded Dr Rafael Alberto.