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The first year after transplant can be tough. You’ve likely had some bumps along the way. We hope you are starting to feel better and your body has gotten used to your new organ. Although this is a great time to rejoice, you need to keep taking good care of your new organ and yourself. This list will help you remember the things you can do to maintain good organ function and good health:
Take your medicines. You must take your medicines as prescribed. This includes the medicines you take for your transplant and other things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.
Get your blood drawn as scheduled. We can often find a problem by viewing your lab results before you show any symptoms. This helps us treat the problem faster and prevent long term damage.
Exercise. Exercise can be a big part of a healthy lifestyle. It can help you maintain an ideal weight, prevent high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It also helps keep your bones strong and can relieve stress and improve your mood.
Eat healthy. Obesity has become a leading health concern. It can lead to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Making good food choices can help you stay at a healthy weight and prevent heart disease. Healthy diets have also been shown to prevent certain types of cancers.
See your doctors. Even though you may be doing well, be sure to see your transplant doctor to address your organ function, problems, and to allow us to refill your medicines. The info we gather at your clinic visits lets us know if you are on the right medicines at the right dosage. It is also a good idea to see your local primary care doctor every year for a full exam.
Get routine cancer screenings. Cancer is a leading cause of death after transplant. Make sure you stay up-to-date on things like your mammogram, pap test, skin cancer screenings, and colonoscopy. These tests can help us treat issues early.
Keep your bones healthy. After a transplant you are at risk for thinning of your bones, or osteoporosis, which can lead to broken bones. Make sure you get enough vitamin D and calcium. Weight bearing exercise reduces your risk of bone loss. Some patients need regular bone mineral density tests to watch for thinning bones.
Get your vaccines. Vaccines are an easy way to prevent and reduce your risk of infection. Get your influenza vaccine every year and ask your doctor which other vaccines you need.
Get involved. Join a transplant support group, or think about joining the UW Organ Donation Volunteer Team. You will learn the facts about organ donation so you can share your time and your journey to help others.
Promote organ donation. Now is a great time to thank those that gave you support through your transplant. Send a note of thanks to your donor’s family and to the staff that cared for your donor. You can also help others by helping to promote donation and the Wisconsin Donor Registry. See our Forward for Life folder or ask your transplant coordinator for more ideas.
If you would like to find out more about any of these topics, a transplant social worker, dietician, pharmacist or transplant coordinator can help you in the clinic or by phone at any time during the transplant process.