Saving a life with living kidney donations
Born with a rare disease that damages the kidneys, Nate Estrella first went into kidney failure at age 16. The living kidney donation from his father saved his life. But when Nate's illness caused the kidney to fail six years later, none of his family or friends were a match this time.
He didn't think another living kidney donation would be possible – until a stranger stepped in. Read Nate's story.
Recovery and Follow-Up
Patients receive exceptional care throughout their lives
Recovery after transplant surgery
Hospital recovery for a kidney transplant is usually 5 to 10 days if there are no complications. The length of stay depends on your medical condition and needs.
You'll spend 24-48 hours in intensive care immediately after surgery. You'll be in transplant care for the rest of your hospital stay. You may be able to get out of bed the day after surgery.
Before you go home, we'll give you information about your medications, lab tests and follow-up care.
You play an important role
You also have a very important role to play in your recovery and in your new kidney's overall success. Be sure to follow the instructions of your doctors. Keep lab and doctor appointments, and call your transplant coordinator if there are any problems.
Your care continues after you leave the hospital. Your kidney transplant team will continue to monitor your progress and address any questions you have along the way. After discharge from the hospital, a post-transplant coordinator will be your primary contact for long-term follow-up care.
During the first year after your transplant, you'll see the kidney transplant team weekly or every other week. As your condition stabilizes, you'll return to the care of your personal nephrologist.
You'll visit your transplant team every year, close to the anniversary of your transplant. They will fully assess your progress and discuss any health concerns you may have.
Remember, your transplant team is always available. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns.
First clinic appointment
Your first clinic appointment after the transplant is the most important. Note the date and time, and keep the clinic's phone number handy in case you need to speak with a transplant coordinator.
Each time you return to the transplant clinic for follow-up care, we'll test your blood to ensure your transplanted organ is functioning properly.
You'll take immunosuppression medications for the rest of your life to help prevent transplant rejection. You'll also have to be careful of infections. We'll help you learn the names of your medications, dosage amounts and times.
Talk to your transplant coordinator or doctor about making any dosage changes. Not following your medication regimen can cause decreased function or loss of the organ. Report any side effects to your coordinator or doctor.
Minimizing steroid therapy
We are one of the few transplant programs in the U.S. to minimize steroid use for immunosuppression after patient discharge. Tapering off corticosteroids within four weeks after surgery reduces side effects, such as diabetes, weight gain, osteoporosis and bone fractures, and reduces patient morbidity.
Recovering at home
After you go home, relax and give yourself adequate time to recover. You won't be able to drive or lift objects weighing more than 10 pounds for two to four weeks. If you experience no complications, you may be able to resume light work activities in six to eight weeks. Your kidney transplant nurse coordinator can answer questions about activities you can and can't do during recovery.
Life after your transplant
Follow these tips to keep your new kidney healthy.
Keep your hands clean
Wash your hands before and after:
- Touching foods
- Touching soiled items or surfaces
- Using the toilet
Encourage others around you to wash their hands, too.
Avoid prolonged sun exposure
Your medications may increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Always use sunblock rated SPF 20 or higher and avoid lengthy exposure to the sun.
Take precautions when caring for pets
Do not handle pet waste with your bare hands. Wear gloves and a mask, and then wash your hands thoroughly. Your transplant coordinator will give you more information before you go home.
Limit your exposure to germs
Don't have large numbers of houseguests during the first six to eight weeks after surgery. Ask family members and friends who may have colds or infections to stay away. Keep preschool children at arm's length, especially if they are in daycare where other children may be sick or infected. Avoid eating from salad bars or buffets as they can harbor bacteria.
Limit your activities
Your body's immune system needs time to adjust to your medications. Pace yourself, rest often and avoid crowded places including church, theaters and malls.
Maintain your transplant
Follow the transplant team's instructions closely to help speed your recovery and ensure the best possible outcome.
- Take your medications as prescribed – they are vital for a healthy transplant.
- Keep all of your scheduled appointments.
- Never hesitate to ask questions about your medications.
Signs of rejection
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your transplant coordinator.
- Sudden decrease in urine output
Our transplant physicians can diagnose and treat rejection, infection and other complications of transplant and transplant medications.