The kidneys are vital organs the human body needs to filter toxic wastes from your blood. The body then excretes these wastes through urination. If the kidneys aren't working correctly, those wastes build up in the body.
People with end-stage renal failure or who have damaged kidneys may benefit from a kidney transplant. It's a life-saving procedure where a highly trained surgeon replaces the damaged kidney with a new, healthy one from a living or deceased donor.
The team at Metro Renal Associates in Washington, DC, and Capitol Heights, Maryland, boasts three esteemed nephrologists who offer the gift of an improved quality of life through kidney transplants.
Dr. Cosette Jamieson, Dr. Kevin Griffiths, and Dr. Oyije Susannah Iheagwara are our nephrologists who help you prepare and recover from a kidney transplant. Here, they explain what to expect after your transplant.
What to expect right after surgery
Right after the procedure, the team transfers you to a room in the hospital to monitor your health for the next few days. We monitor your pain and vitals to ensure the new kidney begins working before you leave the hospital.
It's normal to have discomfort and pain around your abdomen on the side where we performed the transplant. We provide pain medications and help you get moving the day after surgery to begin the recovery process.
Once you're home, we want to see you in the office several times weekly for follow-up appointments and lab draws to check how the new kidney works.
As the weeks pass, you should require fewer follow-up visits as long as the kidney works normally.
You should also monitor how much fluids you drink daily and the volume of urination you produce. It's also crucial to stay away from anyone who's sick while you're recovering to prevent illness or problems with the new kidney.
Understanding anti-rejection medications
Anti-rejection medications are a huge aspect of a kidney transplant. Your body won't recognize your new donor kidney because you weren't born with it. The body's defense is to send your immune system on the attack against the new kidney.
However, we want to prevent the body's natural response to the "foreign" kidney: This is where anti-rejection medications come into play.
Anti-rejection medications suppress your body's immune system to prevent rejection of the new kidney. You must take these medications for the rest of your life, even if you feel good and the kidney works.
Be sure to prioritize taking anti-rejection medications to prevent acute or chronic kidney rejection at any time.
Getting back to normal activities
At some point, you can return to most of your normal activities after a kidney transplant. Most people can resume regular activity within a month to six weeks after transplant surgery.
For instance, about a month after surgery, you can slowly incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Start with walking, and only try lifting or doing something strenuous once we medically clear you.
Returning to work or traveling takes a little longer, as we want you to avoid catching a virus or infection early on. Illness can make your recovery longer and threaten the health of the new kidney.
You may drive after six weeks if you're not in pain and no longer taking pain medications. Consult the transplant team before you hit the road to ensure it's safe.
You may be wondering about intimacy after a kidney transplant. We typically recommend waiting about six weeks to have sex until the incision heals and your pain has resolved.
The facts on complications
A kidney transplant is a major surgical procedure that can cause complications. However, if you need a transplant, the odds are it's necessary for your health and survival.
We always provide you with all the information you need before the procedure so you know what to expect. The most significant complication related to a kidney transplant is rejection of the new kidney.
If your body rejects the kidney, it won't be viable, and we need to remove it to prevent any further complications. Other problems arising after a kidney transplant include:
- Blood clots
- Structural problems
- Stroke or heart attack
We take every safety precaution before, during, and after surgery to ensure you have a healthy recovery. However, sometimes circumstances are out of our hands, and complications arise.
You must prepare for the long road after kidney transplant surgery. If the new kidney succeeds, you can expect a much higher quality of life than before surgery.
To discuss your kidney transplant options, don't hesitate to call Metro Renal Associates today for an appointment or request a consultation with one of our doctors using the online booking tool.