Living with a kidney transplant

Reading time: 3 min
Person lying in bed resting

Rest. Relative rest is advised during the first four weeks. The tubular girdle used during the admission should be used while the patient is mobile for about three months. It is not necessary to stay in bed and it is advisable for the patient to resume activity little by little, while avoiding becoming tired. At first the feeling of urgency to urinate is normal because the bladder has to re-adapt to store urine if the patient was not urinating previously.   

Crowd of people crossed out indicating avoidance of crowded places

Avoid going to enclosed places with a lot of people. After discharge, contaminated environments full of fumes or with excessive crowds of people should also be avoided. In addition, contact with individuals who are sick (colds, flu, pneumonia, etc.) must be avoided because the patient’s natural defences will be lower. As the recovery progresses, the patient can gradually start to go to the cinema, theatre, etc.

Crossed-out hand unable to pick up weight

The patient should not lift heavy weights, hit the abdominal area, or perform jumps, as this could harm the abdominal wound. 

Woman doing exercise

Exercise. The patient may exercise depending on their age and general health. Start by walking every day for about 30–45 minutes. It is not advisable to engage in high-impact exercise such as jumping, riding a horse, or riding a mountain bike, while the transplant is still new. 

Person sitting at a table with several documents

Work activity. The time from transplant to the patient’s return to work will depend on their clinical course, age, and the type of work they perform. Although each case is different, 2–3 months of leave are recommended.

No contact with domestic animals

Pets. The first months after transplantation is when the natural defences are lower and so it is not advisable to be in contact with cats, dogs, birds, etc. Patients can have pets later on in their recovery as long as they are vaccinated, dewormed, and clean. In general, patients should prevent pets licking mucous membranes or wounded skin. Avoid contact with faeces. Always wash your hands after touching pets.  

Travelling by plane

Travel. If the patient’s state of health allows it, they can take trips and drive. On long trips they will have to make frequent stops to urinate. If travel to tropical countries is planned, the patient should be aware that there will be a greater risk of contracting infections and so they must first consult with specialists to find out if it is advisable to travel and what measures should be taken. It is advisable to always carry medications in hand luggage because it can be difficult to find replacement medication in some countries. It is also advisable to bring a copy of the medical report detailing the medication regimen to avoid potential problems at customs and airports.  

Symbol of man and woman

Sexuality. There is no specific waiting time. After transplantation and with good kidney function, libido usually improves. Women may find it easier to contract urinary tract infections if there is intercourse, so urinating afterwards is recommended. Men may experience erectile dysfunction for different reasons, in which case they should consult with their urologist.  

Sperm fertilizing an ovule

Fertility. Young women often regain fertility and start menstruating after transplantation. Contraceptive measures should be used for the first two years because the immunosuppressive treatment is most intense during this phase and has the highest probability of harming a potential foetus. The most advisable method is the use of condoms. Oral contraceptives and intrauterine devices are not recommended. Transplanted men who want to become a father must wait a year and then discuss this possibility with their medical team to assess the best medication for their case. Transplanted women wishing to become a mother should have no major health problems, correct blood pressure, and must undergo a kidney function assessment. Some immunosuppressants will need to be stopped or their dose adjusted before becoming pregnant. If pregnancy occurs, it is considered risky and follow-ups should be attended at a specialised gynaecology service. 

Substantiated information by:

Fritz Diekmann
Mireia Musquera Felip

Published: 19 April 2021
Updated: 19 April 2021


Receive the latest updates related to this content.

Thank you for subscribing!

If this is the first time you subscribe you will receive a confirmation email, check your inbox

An error occurred and we were unable to send your data, please try again later.