Discharge Instructions for Transplant Patients

You had an organ transplant. A doctor replaced a diseased organ with a healthy one from a donor. After an organ transplant, you take medicines that may alter your immune system (the system that fights infection) so it won’t reject the new organ. While this protects the new organ, it increases your risk of infection.

Here are some ways to protect yourself from infection after your transplant. You will continue these precautions until your healthcare provider tells you to stop. You may need to follow these guidelines for the rest of your life.


  • Get plenty of rest and take breaks between activities.

  • Increase your activity gradually. Start with light exercise, such as walking.

  • Check with your healthcare provider before driving a car.

  • Don’t swim until your healthcare provider says this activity is OK. Then wear ear plugs and nose plugs. Don't swim in lakes or streams.

  • Don’t do yard work such as gardening, mowing the lawn, or raking leaves until cleared by your healthcare provider. Then, use a mask when doing these activities.

  • Ask your healthcare provider when you can go back to work or school.

  • Don't ride a bike until your healthcare provider says it's OK.

Skin care

  • Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom.

  • Wash your hands before taking care of your central venous catheter, if you have one.

  • Cover the catheter site with waterproof material before showering.

  • Ask your healthcare provider if sun exposure is safe.

Keep your home clean

  • Clean floors, carpets, furniture, and countertops regularly with a standard cleaning solution that is bactericidal.

  • Be sure your bathroom is clean.

  • Wash your hands after handling trash.

Other ways to help prevent infections

  • Ask your healthcare provider what to do before kissing or having close, intimate contact.

  • Wear a mask when you walk through healthcare facilities, construction areas, windy places, or any area with dust or fumes.

  • Ask your healthcare provider before using cosmetics, contact lenses, tampons, or douches.

  • Limit contact with animals:

    • If you have contact with an animal, wash your hands right away.

    • Don't have contact with pet urine or feces.

    • Don’t clean litter boxes, cages, or aquariums.

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products. Don't let other people smoke in your home.

  • Don't expose yourself to chemicals and fumes such as gasoline, fuel oil, paints, bug or weed killers, and fertilizers.

  • Don’t use portable humidifiers or vaporizers.

  • Avoid contact with anyone who has a cold, the flu, or another contagious condition (such as measles, chickenpox, herpes, pinkeye, coughs, or sore throats).

Other home care

  • Managing your transplant can be stressful for you and your family. Let your healthcare provider know if you or other family members need help dealing with the physical, emotional, and financial issues that a transplant can cause.

  • Take your medicines exactly as directed. Don’t take any other medicine, over-the-counter drugs, supplements, or herbs unless your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

  • Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects.

  • You can eat fresh fruits and vegetables, just wash them thoroughly.


When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Unusual bleeding

  • Vomiting or blood in your vomit

  • Black or tarry stools

  • Diarrhea that does not go away after 2 loose stools

  • Pain or cramping in the stomach

  • Decreased urine output (for kidney transplant recipients) 

  • Irregular blood sugar, or challenges in controlling blood sugar (recipients of pancreas transplants) 

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Shortness of breath

  • Severe headache

  • Confusion

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness

  • Any chest pain

  • Signs of infection around the incision. These include redness, drainage, warmth, and pain.

  • Feeling excessively tired

  • Increased swelling in the legs, feet, hands, or stomach