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Precautions

After a kidney transplant, we expect that you can return to work and resume eating a regular diet.

In general, you can participate in the activities that you did before becoming ill. However, you will need to take some extra precautions:

Eating: It is important to wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them. This will reduce the chance of getting toxoplasmosis (a virus that is harmful to humans). With the dietician on your transplant team, you will create a healthful diet to help you control your weight, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and the amount of fluid your body retains.

Driving: Driving is prohibited for two weeks after you leave the hospital. Because some of your medications can reduce alertness, be sure to check with your transplant team before starting to drive again.

Exercise: Avoid strenuous lifting for at least 4-6 weeks after your transplant. You should be active, however, and some exercise will improve your physical health and mental well-being, and will also counter the muscle-weakening effects of some of your medications. Walking, bike riding, and swimming in a pool are all OK once your incision has healed. Consult your transplant team before starting an exercise routine. If you feel short of breath or light-headed, or have chest tightness, neck or jaw pain, or a rapid heart rate, stop your workout immediately. If these feelings continue, go to the emergency room, then notify your transplant team.

Sexual activity: Sexual activity can be resumed after checking with your transplant team. Certain medications can interfere with sexual function. Women who have had a kidney transplant usually return to a regular menstrual cycle in two or three months. Ovulation may take place before your regular cycle resumes, so be sure to use birth control, as you should not conceive a child for at least one year after transplantation.

Pregnancy: For both men and women, there are risks to the baby if you conceive a child in the first year after your transplant. Some of the drugs used in the transplant (Ganciclovir and Acyclovir) can cause malformations in unborn children. A year after a kidney transplant it is safe to consider having children. Women should check with their transplant team first, so medications can be adjusted to have a safe pregnancy and childbirth.

Smoking: Because smoking can harm your health in many ways, it is best to quit. Ask your transplant team or regular doctor if you need help to stop smoking.

Alcohol: Alcohol and the anti-rejection drugs you will use after your transplant may harm your liver if combined. Ask your transplant team if an occasional drink is all right given the medications you are taking.

Pets: Pets can be an important part of our lives, but some are better than others for recipients of a kidney transplant. Cats are fine, as long as the transplant recipient does not change the litter box, as toxoplasmosis can be transmitted to people through cat feces. Fish are questionable, as aquarium water can spread unusual infections, especially through cuts and sores on a recipient's hands. Dogs are permitted, as long as they have regular vaccinations and checkups. The greatest risk comes from dogs drinking toilet water, and then coming into contact with the transplant recipient. Birds are not permitted, as they can carry diseases that are transmitted to people. If any pets show signs of illness, seek out your veterinarian at once.

Health maintenance: Have yearly eye exams, GYN visits (for women), dental appointments, and any other tests your regular doctor feels you may need.

Medical alert: All transplant recipients should wear a medical alert identification bracelet. Have documents about your medical history with you at all times.

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