Transplant and PUlmonary Hypertension
Living as a Transplant Recipient
As you transition back into your normal life, there are a few precautions that you will need to take to ensure long-term transplant success. Because you will be taking immunosuppressive drugs to prevent transplant rejection, you will be much more susceptible to infections that your body could normally fight off. Therefore, many of these precautions center on avoiding infections. While it may take a while to get used to these new precautions, transplant recipients overwhelmingly report an improved quality of life. If you follow the tips below and make sure you get plenty of sleep, exercise, good nutrition and relaxation time, you will greatly increase your chances at long-term success.
Around the House
- Children of transplant recipients should not receive live virus vaccinations.
- Do not change baby diapers.
- Wash dishes in the hottest tolerable water or use the hottest setting on your dishwasher.
- Wear a mask and gloves while gardening; do not mulch.
- Current pets should be checked by a vet for disease and have all vaccinations brought up-to-date.
- Check with your transplant physician before acquiring new pets.
- Do not change cat litter boxes, clean up after birds or clean your pets' ears.
- Do not empty vacuum cleaner bags, change furnace filters or clean very dusty areas.
- Avoid inhaling strong fumes from cleaning products such as ammonia or bleach.
- Vacuum your mattress once a month.
- Wash your hands very frequently.
- Do not get into the habit of eating after people, such as out of bags or bowls of snacks, or drinking after people.
Outside of Your Home
- Avoid people with contagious illnesses.
- Wear a mask outside on windy days.
- Avoid construction, demolition or other high-dust areas. If you must pass by or through such an area, wear a mask.
- Do not swim in stagnant bodies of water, such as lakes or ponds.
- Wear shoes when outside to prevent infection due to breaks in skin.
- Always wear sunscreen SPF 45 or higher when going outdoors.
First Aid and Hygiene
- Clean and bandage cuts immediately and report any signs of infection to your transplant team.
- If healing is prolonged or if you notice pain, swelling, redness, discharge or other signs of infection, notify your transplant team right away.
- Notify the transplant coordinator if you notice any unusual rashes, blisters or other lesions on your skin.
- Visit your dentist every six months.
- Notify your transplant coordinator if you notice sores, ulcers or white patches in your mouth.
- You may wear fingernail polish, but do not wear false nails or tips, as they increase your risk of fungal infection.
- Consult your transplant physician before you have any dental or surgical procedures done, because you may need additional medications beforehand.
- You and all of your family members should get a flu shot as soon as they are available each year.
Immunosuppressive medications may also increase your risk for developing cancer. For this reason, you should always wear SPF 45 or higher when going outside. Women should do monthly breast self-examinations and have regular Pap smears and mammograms.
Good nutrition is a very important aspect of caring for yourself after your transplant. Some of the medications that you are taking can cause an increase in your appetite, high blood sugar and fluid retention. It will be important that you eat a healthful diet to curb the potential harmful effects of these medications.
The following are some guidelines for good post-transplant nutrition:
- Eat a low sodium diet.
- Reduce the overall amount of saturated fats and cholesterol in your diet.
- Reduce your intake of concentrated sweets and sugars.
- Reach and maintain your ideal body weight.
- Limit alcohol intake to one drink and only on special occasions.
- Avoid raw seafood and rare meats. *to prevent infection
- Avoid fresh salads at restaurants. *to prevent infection
Consult your physician before resuming sexual activity. You will need to be careful to minimize weight or strain put on your incision.
Additionally, the following precautions should be taken:
- Condom use, even in monogamous relationships. Because you are immunosuppressed, something as simple as a woman's common yeast infection could cause a serious infection in a male transplant patient.
- Birth control. Pregnancy could be dangerous for a female lung transplant patient. Therefore, condom use and, if you choose, supplemental birth control will be important if you choose to engage in sexual activity.
Medical Condition Alert Bracelet
Though you may have had a Medical Alert Bracelet for PH, it is strongly recommended that you get a new bracelet to indicate that you are a lung recipient.
The following information should be included:
- Your name
- Lung transplant recipient
- Phone number of transplant center/transplant physician
When To Contact Your Transplant Coordinator
You should feel comfortable contacting your transplant coordinator about any questions or concerns you may have. However, if you ever experience any of the following symptoms, notify your transplant coordinator immediately:
- Temperature greater than 100 F
- Productive cough
- Shortness of breath
- Sores, blisters or lumps
- Flu-like symptoms
- Drainage or swelling from a cut or wound
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours
- Increase in fatigue
- Burning on urination
- Decrease in FEV1 and/or FVC by 10% in a 24-hour period, or a downward trend in FEV1/FVC results over three days or more
- Weight gain of more than three pounds in a 24-hour period.
Language Based on Treatment Fact Sheet Issued by PHA's Scientific Leadership Council
To review Conflict of Interest Disclosures for PHA's medical leadership, visit: Disclosures
Last reviewed in 2009