After the transplant

After the operation, you are monitored very closely. Sometimes the kidney does not work immediately (primary non-function or delayed graft function) - the doctors may decide to do a kidney biopsy to look for rejection. This is done under local anaesthetic and is quite safe. Even when transplant kidneys and patients are a close match, the immune system can recognise the kidney as "foreign" to the body, and tries to reject it. Rejection is common - 30% of patients will have an episode of rejection in the first few months.

The most commonly used of these drugs are:

  • Cyclosporin
  • Tacrolimus
  • Azathioprine
  • Mycophenolate
  • Prednisolone

All of these can have side effects. For this reason, you will need to have regular blood tests after your operation, to check whether the balance of medication is correct. Cyclosporin can change how the skin feels and can make body hair grow faster. Prednisolone is a steroid which can cause many side effects including weight gain. New drugs are being developed which work in similar or different ways to counteract rejection.

In addition, taking immuno-suppressant drugs makes the immune system less efficient - not just at rejecting the new kidney - but also at fighting off other infections. The drugs make the skin more sensitive to the effects of sunlight (sunburn and even a slightly increased risk of getting skin cancer) so it is important to protect yourself from the sun.

Don't panic if things don't immediately seem to be working properly...

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