Keeping the ​Kidney Healthy

A kidney transplant is not a cure. A kidney transplant requires a lifetime commitment from the caretaker and the patient. Altho​ugh your transplant team at Lurie Children’s will continue to provide you with support and education, it's up to you to follow their instructions on the following topics. 

Immunizations​

Whenever possible, all required immunizations should be given before transplant. After transplant, your child should not receive any routine immunizations until approval is given by the transplant team (about 12 weeks after transplant). Modified immunizations will then be given according to the usual w​ell-child schedule. 

Because of the immunosuppressant medica​tions, your child should not receive live virus vaccines, including MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella), OPV (oral polio vaccine) or varicella. Infants and children who are immunosuppressed should receive the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). All members of the family should also receive IPV. Family members can, however, receive the MMR. 

VZIG, a shot, is always given as soon as possible after your child has been exposed to chicken pox to lessen the severity of the disease. Call t​he transplant team immediately if your child has been exposed to chicken pox.

Cleanliness After Transpla​nt

During the first month after transplant, you​r child will be on the highest dose of immunosuppressant medication, which means that this is the time they are more likely to get an infection. During this time, avoid crowded areas such as malls, theaters and grocery stores. 

If you have to take your child to one of these places, go when other kids are in school and it is likely to be less crowded. The most impo​rtant guard against germs and infection for your child is good, consistent hand washing for all family members. 

Pediatrici​an Visits

While you may visit the transplant team often, it is also important to follow up with your pediatrician. Make sure that they kno​w about the transplant and your child's new medications. A summary letter is sent to your pediatrician after discharge from the hospital and after each visit. 

Dental Check-u​ps

Good oral hygiene is a way to keep your child healthy and free of infection. It is best to take care of cavities and other dental work before transplant. Regular dental check-ups are important to prevent infec​tion, but should be avoided for the first six months after transplant. The transplant team will let you know when you may return for regular dental visits. 

Antibiotics must be taken as prescribed, before the dental visit, to prevent infection in the blood or heart. Notify your dentist of this w​hen making the appointment for your child. 

Skin ​Evaluation

After transplant, the medications prescribed will cause sun sensitivity and put your child at a higher risk for skin cancer. It is imp​ortant to always apply sun screen when outdoors and to check your child's skin often for irregular moles or growths. The transplant team may refer your child to a dermatologist for any suspicious skin conditions. 

Hearing & Vision Evaluati​ons

We recommend yearly hearing and vision exams by your primary care physician. Children who are on Prednisone should ​be evaluated annually by an ophthalmologist. Also, some of the medications that your child received during transplant can increase the risk for hearing loss. 

Schoo​l

School is an importan​t part of your child's life. The transplant team encourages children to return to school as soon as possible after transplant (about three weeks). While recovering in the hospital and at home, a tutor may help your child keep up with their studies. 

It is important for others to understand that once your child has received a new kidney, they are no longer ill but need to contin​ue to take medications and be followed by the transplant team. Please contact the transplant coordinator if your child is exposed to any communicable diseases.