Congratulations - you got a transplant! Your life can now return to being more normal, but just as you made changes to take care of yourself before the transplant, steps needs to be taken to make sure that your new kidney can keep on keepin’ on. Sure, a healthy diet is a big need, regular check-ups are an obvious one, and always taking your medicine keeps you on track - but there may be one bit of kidney housekeeping that you haven’t thought about --actual housekeeping.
Yes, keeping a clean house can help to keep your kidney happy. And no, this isn’t some new-wave “clear the clutter” concept - it’s science. When you get a kidney transplant, your body knows that the new kidney is foreign (that is, not originally part of your body) and your body will attack the new kidney and try to damage or destroy it. There are many ways to protect against this, and a big one is by taking immunosuppressant drugs - which is a very long word that means medications that suppress the body's immune system to prevent rejection.
But, like free WIFI and Beyoncé, suppressing the immune system is kind of a big deal. After all, your immune system is your primary defense against disease-causing germs. So, while necessary post transplant, suppressing the immune system leaves your body more open to infection. Normally, little things that house bacteria, like a dusty shelf, or unwashed lettuce, don’t stand a chance against your immune system.
Here are a few household matters to keep top of mind after a transplant:
Channel your inner chef and do your prep work when working with food. Since harmful bacteria can live on produce and proteins, kitchen safety is a crucial ingredient for health post-transplant. Whether you or someone else is doing the cooking, make sure that working surfaces and chopping boards are kept clean after each use, towels and kitchen linens are changed and washed regularly, and ingredients are handled with care and proper cold storage.
As much as you may love your plants, dirt is literally dirty, and dangerous bacteria can live in the soil. So, if you can’t stand the sight of weeds creeping in on your prized peonies - don’t forget your gloves and wash your hands after you’re done in the garden!
Fido and Mittens are great companions, but their lack of opposable thumbs have made regular showers a bit unlikely. Since pets can carry germs, it is important to let someone else manage the litter box clean outs (a breeding ground for toxoplasmosa, a parasite which is as nasty as it sounds). Or, if a child was the one begging for that puppy, now is a great time to pass off the care and teach them just how much responsibility it takes to raise a furry friend.
Take these steps for household health and your transplant will be right at home!
For more information on Immunosuppression, check out this article.