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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Kidney transplant is surgery to replace a damaged kidney with a new kidney from a donor (another person). The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs found under the ribs on each side of the upper abdomen (stomach). The kidneys remove wastes and other unwanted chemicals from the body. These wastes are flushed from the body as urine. When the kidneys are badly damaged, these wastes build up in the body and cause harm. This may cause seizures (convulsions), trouble breathing, increased blood pressure, body swelling, confusion, fainting, or even death. A new kidney may be needed to replace the damaged kidney to keep the body working.
- The new kidney may come from family members, spouse, close friends, or even someone you do not know. In most cases, surgery is done at the same time between you and your donor. An incision (cut) will be made on your abdomen and your new kidney will be placed. The blood vessels will be connected and the ureter will be attached to your bladder. The ureter is the narrow tube that connects the kidney to the bladder where urine is temporarily stored. Your new kidney should begin to work as soon as blood flows through it. With a kidney transplant, you may resume your usual activities and prevent more serious health problems.
- Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
- Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
Keep all appointments. Write down any questions you may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your next visit. You may need to have different tests, such as blood or urine tests, at certain times. Your caregiver may also change the dose of your medicines, including steroids and other antirejection medicines you use. Ask your caregiver when to come back and how often you need to have the tests.
Bathing with stitches:
Follow your primary healthcare provider's instructions on when you can bathe. Gently wash the part of your body that has the stitches. Do not rub on the stitches to dry your skin. Pat the area gently with a towel. When the area is dry, put on a clean, new bandage as directed.
Blood sugar and blood pressure checks:
- If you have diabetes, you may need to check your blood sugar many times each day. To do this, you may have to use a glucose monitor. This is a small device that tells how much sugar is in your blood. The monitor uses a small drop of blood from a prick on your finger. In a diary, write down your blood sugar results each time for your caregiver to review. Your caregiver will tell you how much blood sugar should be normal for you.
- If you have high blood pressure, you may need to check and write down your blood pressure readings. Caregivers will teach you or your family how to check your blood pressure, and tell you how often to do this. Keep track of your blood pressure readings, along with the date and time you took them. Take this record with you to your caregiver visits.
You may need to attend meetings or talks together with your family members. Your friends or other people who are close to you may also be asked to attend these meetings. These meetings can help everyone understand your condition, surgery, or care better.
Diet and drinking liquids:
- Eat a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups. The food groups include breads, vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products, and protein (beans, eggs, poultry, meat and fish). These foods may help you feel better and have more energy. If you have diabetes, you may need to change the way you eat to control your blood sugar. Tell your caregiver before adding special drinks or vitamins to your diet. You may be told to limit the amount of salt you eat. Ask your caregiver how many servings of fats, oils, and sweets you may have each day, and if you need to be on a special diet.
- Follow your caregiver's advice if you must change the amount of liquid you drink. For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juices, and milk. Try to drink enough liquid each day, and not just when you feel thirsty.
Rest when you need to while you heal after surgery.
Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
- Do not drink alcohol: Some people should not drink alcohol. These people include those with certain medical conditions or who take medicine that interacts with alcohol. Alcohol includes beer, wine, and liquor. Tell your caregiver if you drink alcohol. Ask him to help you stop drinking.
- Exercise: Exercise makes the heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and helps keep you healthy. Begin to exercise slowly and do more as you get stronger. Talk with your primary healthcare provider before you start an exercise program.
- Keep a healthy weight: Weighing too much can make your heart work harder and can cause serious health problems. Talk to your caregiver about a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Quit smoking: It is never too late to quit smoking. Smoking harms the heart, lungs, blood, and your new kidney. You are more likely to have a heart attack, lung disease, and cancer if you smoke. You will help yourself and those around you by not smoking. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.
Ask your caregiver what vaccines are right for you against certain germs and when you should get them. Try to stay away from people who have an infection such as colds or the flu. This decreases your chance of getting sick. The medicines and treatments you are getting can decrease your ability to fight infection. Your family members or those living with you may also need flu shots. These shots may keep them from getting the flu and pneumonia and spread them in your home.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You feel you cannot cope with your condition.
- You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
- You have dizziness, nausea (upset stomach), or vomiting (throwing up).
- Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
- You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery, condition, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have a fever.
- You have pain in your abdomen, side, or genital area that does not go away or gets worse.
- You have problems passing urine and your urine looks red or dark brown.
- You have pus or a foul-smelling odor coming from your incision.
- Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
- You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- Your symptoms become worse or come back.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.