Conditions + Treatments

Kidney Transplant | Long-Term Outlook

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Contact the Kidney Transplant Program

Living with a kidney transplant is a lifetime journey, and each child and transplant is different. Following the operation, the transplant team will see the child frequently for follow-up visits, initially once or twice per week in the Kidney Transplant Clinic.The frequency of visits will decrease over the first year post-transplant. For the life of the kidney, we recommend at least monthly blood draws to monitor the kidney’s function and the medication levels.

Our goal is to return a transplant recipient to as normal a routine as possible. Most children are able to return to school about two months after their transplant. While precautions need to be taken, we encourage them to lead full and happy lives — to play sports, spend time with friends and enjoy hobbies.

Physical activity

We encourage kidney-transplant recipients to participate in sports and activities as desired. Before the transplant, a child may not have been active; however, post-transplant he or she will gradually be able to increase activity.

For the first two months, children who have had a transplant must avoid rough play and contact sports. The kidney transplant team provides specific instructions and recommendations for sporting activities and gym classes. We recommend recipients wear a special kidney protector to participate in any contact sports or activities and will discuss this with you in our post-transplant clinic visits.

Medication adherence

Immunosuppression (anti-rejection) medications are prescribed to help the immune system accept the new kidney. Some are taken in pill or liquid form; others are given intravenously. As long as the child has a functioning kidney transplant, he or she will need to take anti-rejection medications.

A major reason for rejection is non-adherence (the medical term for not taking medications properly). Teenagers, both because they are seeking more control of their lives and because they don’t like some of the typically temporary physical effects caused by the drugs, have a tendency to skip their medications. An episode of rejection will lead to an inpatient admission for a kidney biopsy and more aggressive anti-rejection medications. Non-adherence may lead to rejection and loss of the kidney. Therefore, it is critical that medications are always taken as instructed, without missing doses.

We work with teenagers to help them take responsibility for their own medications. The key is promoting partnership and ownership and figuring out what works for each individual.

Nutrition

Adopting healthy eating habits after kidney transplantation can make a big difference in long-term health. A dietitian can help by teaching meal planning, portion control and tips for healthier eating.

Growth and development following kidney transplant

Our goal is to allow kidney recipients to continue to grow and develop like other children the same age. We try to limit restrictions and adapt their medical needs to allow for a normal schedule and activities.

A kidney recipient's physical growth is checked often. We make suggestions about necessary diet changes and carefully observe the kidney recipient at regular intervals, making suggestions along the way. Although transplantation adds many demands on children, most recipients adapt fairly well, and have our support every step of the way.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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