- Transplant Center
- Bone Marrow
Possible complications after kidney transplant
Why does rejection happen?
Rejection is when your body's immune system recognizes something foreign in the body and tries to destroy it. It is the most common complication of a kidney transplant and can happen any time during the life of your kidney. There are two major types of rejection:
This is a sudden reaction of your body's defense (immune) system against the kidney transplant. This type of rejection is usually seen in the first year after transplant, and will require you to return to the hospital. If treated early, kidney function will usually improve. If your body totally rejects the transplanted kidney you will need dialysis. The kidney may or may not need to be removed.
The goal is to stop the immune system's attack on the kidney. Possible treatments include large IV doses of steroids or strong IV immunosuppressive drugs such as thymoglobulin or OKT3.
This is a gradual decrease in kidney function. This type of rejection usually occurs several months or years after the transplant. Because this rejection is a slow process, dialysis may not be needed for some time. The cause of this rejection is unknown and treatment with medication is often less effective than with acute rejection.
Why are you prone to infection?
The anti-rejection drugs you take put you at greater risk for developing an infection. The most common infections after a kidney transplant are of the lungs, the surgical incision, and the bladder or urinary tract. If you develop an infection, it is treated with antibiotics, anti-virus medications, or anti-fungal medications. When necessary, our transplant team consults with the infectious disease team at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
To help prevent infections, you may take anti-bacterial, anti-virus, and anti-fungal medications for a certain period of time after your surgery.