Post-Transplant Care Helps Speed Up Recovery

Submitted on March 27, 2012
Living With Organ Transplants - Simple lifestyle changes for transplant recipients
Living With Organ Transplants

A debilitating disease or an injury could damage one’s organs. One could also be born with a disease that causes an organ failure or a structural abnormality of an organ. In such cases, one would need an organ transplant in order to keep the body functioning normally. During this procedure, doctors remove the damaged organ from the patient’s body and replace it with a healthy organ from a donor’s body. The donor may be a living person or recently deceased person.

The organs that are commonly transplanted include the heart, kidney, liver, pancreas, lungs and intestine. In 2012, about 16,812 kidney transplants took place in America. Organ procurement for a transplant is not an easy process. One’s name is first entered on the organ transplant list based on certain criteria. However, getting the transplant is just the beginning of the story. Some precautions need to be taken after an organ transplant. Some of these include taking medications to prevent organ rejection by the body. This occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the transplanted organ.

The new organ requires a lot of care and regular medical monitoring. Along with these, lifestyle changes also need to be made.

Here are some of steps required to ensure that the new organ stays healthy.

Laboratory Testing

Regular monitoring of the health of the transplanted organ is necessary to keep it in optimal health. The patient must keep to scheduled medical appointments and tests. The tests can help detect early signs of rejection of the organ by the body. The doctors can then begin effective therapy to counter the rejection. Some of the common tests to check organ function include:

  • Liver function tests - these are blood tests to monitor the health of the liver
  • Hemodynamic monitoring - helps to monitor the blood pressure in your heart or lungs either by way of sonar type echoes or by catheter placed temporarily in the heart
  • Echocardiograms - help to detect abnormalities in the heart or lungs
  • Electrocardiograms - help to assess the electrical activity of the heart

Other Medical Issues

The drugs that one takes to prevent rejection of the new organ, suppresses the immune system, making one more prone to diseases and infections. The receiver can also be at a higher risk of developing other medical conditions such as hypertension, kidney disease, diabetes, bone disease and stroke. Learning about these risks will help to make important lifestyle changes that will help you to mitigate these risks. These steps will also help to keep the new organ healthy.

Lifestyle changes are also important. They include:

  • Regular exercise will help keep fit. Exercise helps lower blood pressure and keeps you calm and relaxed.
  • Diet also plays an important role in the health of your new organ. Salt intake should be minimized to decrease the risk of developing high blood pressure. A diet low in cholesterol and saturated fats can help to decrease the level of blood lipids. Your diet should ideally consist of 20% lean proteins, 30% fats and 50% carbohydrates.
  • Quit Smoking immediately.
  • Clean and bandage cuts and scratches or get in touch with your health care provider in case you observe signs of an infection.
  • Practice safe sex as sexually transmitted diseases like herpes can be a problem for anyone.

Remember, a positive attitude can help you cope with the changes that are required and enable you to lead a normal and more fulfilling life.