Kidney Transplant Management

When an individual’s kidneys fail, three treatments are available: hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and kidney transplantation. Many people feel that a successful kidney transplant will provide a better quality of life because it allows greater freedom, increased energy levels, and a less restricted diet.

Although the first step to having an organ transplant is making the decision after discussing your options with our specialists, it’s certainly not the only one.

Once the decision is made, a donor must be found. This includes screening to see if the donor’s organ will be a match for your body. If no living donor with a match is found, then you will have to be placed on a waiting list. This process can take several years, which means you will require other treatment (dialysis) for the duration. Kidney transplants, like other treatments, often require following special dietary guidelines. Dialysis usually requires an  even more restricted diet. Your health and medications must be carefully monitored prior to a transplant and/or during dialysis.

As part of renal transplant management, the Illinois Kidney Disease and Hypertension Center will discuss the following with you:

  • Follow-up Care
  • Possible Complications
  • Dietary Restrictions
  • Prognosis

Follow-up Care

Postoperative management includes management of the operative procedure itself and immunosuppression. Therefore, once the transplant has occurred, you will continue follow-up visits and monitoring. No matter how close the donor match, there is a possibility that your body will reject the kidney. A common cause is not taking medication as prescribed, so it is imperative that you follow the doctor’s orders. The immunosuppressants help keep your body’s immune system from attacking the kidney. The immunosuppressants must be taken every day as long as the transplanted kidney is functioning. Even with the drugs, there are times when a body will reject a kidney. If this happens, you’ll need to go back to having some form of dialysis and may wait for another transplant.

Possible Complications

Although immunosuppressants must be taken to keep your body from rejecting the kidney, these drugs can weaken your immune system leading to other infections. Some may even your change your appearance with weight gain, acne or facial hair. Since immunosuppressants work by diminishing the ability of your immune cells to function, maintaining your health as much as you can is important through prevention. Our specialists will help you develop a plan for creating a healthy lifestyle and will monitor your ongoing care. In some cases, the drugs can cause cataracts, diabetes, extra stomach acid, high blood pressure and bone disease. When used for long periods of time, these drugs may also cause liver or kidney damage in some patients.

Dietary Restrictions

Although the diet for transplant patients is less restrictive than the one for dialysis patients, you will still need to watch what you eat carefully. Your diet may require modifications as your medications, blood values, weight and blood pressure change.

Watch Calories – Medication can cause increased appetite and weight gain.

Consume Less Salt – Medication can cause your body to retain sodium and increase blood pressure.


Recent studies indicate that the prognosis today is generally excellent, with one-year graft survival rates at 95%. Although many factors can influence the outcome, current medications and treatments make the outlook very good.

Contact us if you would like to know more about renal transplantation management.