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. Typically, after a few weeks, this schedule changes to every other week and eventually, once a month and then every three to six months.

Our goal is to return a transplant recipient to as normal a routine as possible. Many children are able to return to school in about two or three 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.

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.

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.

For the first few weeks after transplant, the recipient will need extra nutrition to recover after surgery. Transplant recipients should be sure to eat enough calories and protein to help wound healing, fight infection and gain back any weight that may have been lost from having surgery.

Six to 12 weeks after surgery, the healing process is just about complete; therefore, calories and protein needs will not be as high as in the immediate post-transplant period. Adopting lifelong healthy habits, like eating healthy foods, is the key to success after. A dietitian will work with the child while in the hospital to answer any questions and will be available after discharge when you return to the Transplant Clinic to help with food choices and weight management.

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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