A to Z Health Guide

Steps to Keep Your Transplanted Kidney

  1. Schedule regular healthcare visits
  2. Take all your medications every day and at the same time as instructed
  3. Discuss any medication concerns or side effects with your transplant team
  4. Eat healthy
  5. Get regular exercise
  6. Keep a healthy weight
  7. Ask how you can lower your chances for high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, or infection Become an active member of your healthcare team
Eating Healthy
Most people with a kidney transplant have few dietary restrictions, but it's important to eat a healthy diet. In general, you should eat a heart- healthy diet (low fat, low salt) and drink plenty of fluids. If you have diabetes or other health problems, you may still have some dietary restrictions. A dietitian can help you plan meals that are right for you.
 
Your Healthcare Visits
It is important to take care of your overall health with your transplant. Having routine health screenings will help guide your care. You will also need regular blood tests to help find out how well your kidney is working, and to watch the levels of immunosuppressive medications. This will also help find any possible problems early, when treatment works best.
 
You and Your Healthcare Team
Good healthcare is always a team effort—especially when you have a transplant. The people on your healthcare team help you most when you work with them as part of the team. You do that by sharing your concerns, asking questions, and by learning as much as you can about your transplant. Remember, you are the most important part of the team!
 
Your Daily Medication Schedule
Living with daily medications often means creating new habits so you can remember to take your medications in a way that fits into your routine. Talk to your transplant team if you are having difficulty sticking to your medication schedule.  In addition, here are some common barriers to taking medication and ways to overcome them: 
Barriers To Daily Medication
To Overcome Barriers
I forget to take my medication, especially if:
  • I am busy doing other things
  • I can't remember whether I've taken them already
  • I fall asleep or oversleep
  • Something interrupts my routine like a phone call or visit
  • It is a holiday or celebration
  • Nobody reminds me
It's hard for me to take my medications:
  • On time
  • When others can notice me taking them
  • When it is inconvenient to do so
I forget to bring them with me when I leave home
  • Post a medication calendar in sight showing the days/times to take them
  • Use a pillbox, app, mobile phone, or watch with an alarm
  • Place medications where they are visible (but out of reach of children or pets)
  • Schedule your medications at the same time as regular daily routines
  • Keep a small supply of medication in your purse or briefcase, at your desk at work, or other helpful places
Common Immunosuppressants
Generic Name
 
Tips
Tacrolimus
 
  • Avoid grapefruit juice because it affects how the medication is broken down in the liver
   
Cyclosporine
 
  • Avoid grapefruit juice because it affects how the medication is broken down by the liver
Prednisone
 
  • Best to take with food to avoid stomach upset
Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF)
 
  • Take by mouth on an empty stomach, 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals.
Sirolimus
 
  • Avoid grapefruit juice because it affects how the medication is broken down by the liver
Everolimus
 
  • Avoid grapefruit juice because it affects how the medication is broken down by the liver
Belatacept
 
  • Available as an IV infusion only
  • Dosing schedule depends on time after transplant but are usually given every four weeks
Azathioprine
 
  • none
Note: Different tacrolimis, cyclosporine, and mycophenolate products are not interchangeable.
 

Learn More

The more you learn about your transplant, the better choices you can make about your health. Ask your transplant team for more information. You can also visit the National Kidney Foundation's website at www.kidney.org/transplantation or call NKF Cares toll-free at 855.653.2273.
 
The National Kidney Foundation has many free educational resources:
THE NKF CARES PATIENT HELPLINE at 855.653.2273 is a toll-free number that you can call for information. A trained professional will listen to your concerns and help answer your questions. Ask for any of our free educational booklets on kidney transplantation or visit: www.kidney.org/transplantation.
CARE AFTER KIDNEY TRANSPLANT is a SmartPhone app that helps you learn how to stay healthy with a kidney transplant. It provides answers to frequently asked questions, and why it is important to follow all of the instructions and recommendations from your transplant team.
TRANSPLANT CHRONICLES is an e-newsletter from the National Kidney Foundation that provides information and resources for transplant recipients and families. Subscribe here
 

Additional Resources:

TRANSPLANT CAFE allows individuals in the transplant community to connect online to create friendships, get and give support, increase awareness through advocacy, and much more. Visit www.transplantcafe.com
TRANSPLANT LIVING has information and resources that help you and your family make the best possible decisions about your post-transplant treatment. View their list of support groups to see if there is one in your area. "Transplant Living"
is part of The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which manages the waiting list for a transplant in the U.S. and matches donors to recipients. Visit www.transplantliving.org
Date Reviewed: 
February 6, 2017

The information shared on our websites is information developed solely from internal experts on the subject matter, including medical advisory boards, who have developed guidelines for our patient content. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. No one associated with the National Kidney Foundation will answer medical questions via e-mail. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.