Before you go home…
Before you are discharged one of the transplant co-ordinators will visit you to go over all the information you and your family require to keep you healthy.
If you have any questions or uncertainties once you are back home, don’t be afraid to get in touch with your transplant coordinator. The contact details for transplant coordinators of all disciplines can be found here.
Returning to Work
Our aim is to allow each transplant patient to return to an independant lifestyle with a good quality of life.
Most transplant recipients remain off work for 2-3 months, though this will depend on the individual patient and their occupation.
Usually you are able to drive at about 6 weeks following your operation. You should also check with your individual insurance company. At that time inform your isurance company and the DVLA that you have had a transplant operation. Remember to always use your seat belt!
You may be able to get some financial help to cover your travel costs when using public transport, your own car (not taxi) – if you are on a means tested benefit, which include:
- Income support
- Job Seekers Allowance (JSA: income based)
- Working Families Tax Credit
- Disabled Persons Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA: income based)
- Pensions Credit
Or if you have any of the following certificates:
- an HC2 (Help with health costs certificate)
- an HC3 (Help with health costs certificate)
You can apply for an HC2/HC3 (by completing an HC1 form) if you are on:
- Incapacity Benefit
- Contributory ESA
- Contributory JSA
- Working on a low income
Many people gain weight following a transplant especially in the first year. This can be due to freedom from dietary restrictions, feeling well, increased appetite and lack of exercise. This is not helped by steroids which are a necessary medication after a transplant.
Many common health problems such as heart disease can be linked to a poor diet and lifestyle. Healthy eating is an important part of keeping fit and one of the positive things you can do to improve your health.
Healthy eating is not a “diet” – it requires a gradual change in your eating behaviour and should become a regular part of your lifestyle.
Enjoying what you eat and having a varied diet
Eating more fruit and vegegtables
Cutting down on fat, sugar, and salt
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Your transplant co-ordinator will give you more information about healthy eating and food safety before you are discharged home.
Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week on a regular basis. For more information about the consumption of alcohol head to the Alcohol units – NHS webpage.
Liver transplant patients are advised to keep in mind the advice their transplant team give them. If alcohol is thought to have been a cause of or contributed to your liver disease, lifelong abstinence is necessary to safeguard your future health.
When you feel well enough you can start to take gentle exercise. It is important to stay fit and healthy and there is no reason you cannot have an active lifestyle after your transplant. However, you should avoid contact sports such as rugby.
Due to your medication you are more at risk of skin cancer. To reduce your risk, you can:
- Make sure you cover up when outside
- Wear a hat and use sunscreen
- Avoid sunbeds and sunbathing
You should wear sunscreen in the UK between the months of April and October as well as when abroad. Sunsense SPF 50+ is available on prescription from your GP.
You should examine your skin regularly, looking for any changes to existing moles and freckles. If you are concerned that your skin has changed, please speak to your GP, transplant nurse, or doctor.
For more information about skin cancer, have a look at the Information about Skin Cancer for Patient with an Organ Transplant leaflet.
There is no reason to prevent you from travelling within the UK when you feel well enough after your transplant. Before you travel, you should contact one of the medical staff you see regularly in the transplant follow-up clinic for advice on health risks, travel insurance, medication, etc..
Before booking any overseas holidays, always check that you are fit for travel by asking on of the medical staff in the outpatient clinic. If you are going away, make sure you have sufficient medication with you for the duration of your holiday. It is usually a good idea to obtain prescription supplies well in advance so as to never be of medication.
You can get advise from the travel clinic at the Western General Hospital regarding vaccinations that may be required. Call 0131 537 2822 to book an appointment.
As you are taking immunosuppressants, it is important that you do not have certain vaccines called live vaccines. Live vaccines are likely to give you the disease the vaccine is designed to protect you against because of lowering immunity. Other vaccines called inactive vaccines are not dangerous to receive but may not give you full protection.
It is recommended that you have the seasonal flu vaccination on a yearly basis.
Many women who have had a successful transplany enjoy a normal pregnancy. However, we advise against pregnancy during the first year after your transplant. Having a baby may put strain on your transplant and you may be taking medicines that could affect the baby. During this time it is essential that you use some form of contraception.
Men also need to take “pregnancy advice” as it is important that they do not father children whilst on certain medication.
You should discuss family planning with your renal doctor or transplant nurse.
You can resume sexual activity once you feel well enough. However, you may find that your sex drive is reduced during the early convalescence period, although this will gradually return to normal.