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Kidney transplant guide - information for patients after a kidney transplant

Patient information A-Z


This booklet has been written for patients who have received a kidney transplant at Addenbrooke’s hospital. It provides information about the kidney transplant operation and the recovery period. The aim is to help you and your family/carer become more aware of what to do to keep yourself and your transplanted kidney in good health, and also what to do if you think you have a problem.

Below is a list of useful contact numbers for the Cambridge Transplant Centre. These are mostly automated, so please leave a message with your contact details. Alternatively you can send us a message via MyChart. Please ask your coordinator if you are not already signed up to this service.

Renal transplant specialist nurse team: 01223 274637 or 01223 348031
Email the Renal transplant specialist nurse team
08:00 – 16:00, Monday to Friday

Pancreas transplant coordinator: 01223 216536
Email the Pancrease transplant coordinator
16:00 – 08:00
Weekends for urgent telephone advice only: Transplant ward, Addenbrooke’s hospital, Cambridge
Telephone: 01223 217711

Outpatient clinic enquiries, Clinic 12 Telephone: 01223 274900

Transplant pharmacy team: Telephone: 01223 254934
Email the Transplant pharmacy team

Addenbrooke’s hospital switchboard: 01223 24515

The kidney transplant operation

The transplanted kidney is usually placed in either the right or left groin area, as illustrated. It is placed here as it is close to your bladder. Normally your own kidneys are not removed unless there is a reason to do so. As a result, you will end up with three kidneys (your own ‘native’ kidneys and the transplanted one).

The operation requires the surgeon to join up your blood vessels to those of the transplanted kidney. The urine tube (ureter) that will drain the urine from the transplanted kidney will be connected to your bladder.

If you have a peritoneal dialysis catheter this will be removed at the time of the transplant operation.

During the transplant you will also have a small plastic tube (ureteric stent) placed between your transplanted kidney and your bladder to help maintain the flow of urine. The stent will be removed after six weeks, this is a quick procedure using a local anaesthetic and usually takes place in the clinic.

Diagram of the urinary system labelled: Donor kidney, donor ureter, bladder

After the operation

After the kidney transplant has been carried out you will usually return to the transplant ward. Sometimes it may be necessary for you to be looked after in the intensive care unit or high dependency unit for a day or two, depending on your recovery from the operation. The nursing staff will make sure that you are comfortable and will monitor your transplanted kidney to make sure it is working well.

When you wake up you will notice that you have a number of different plastic tubes in your body, the most common ones will be:

  • A tube in your neck to help us to give you fluids and give you temporary dialysis if required.
  • A small tube in your hand or arm to give you medications and pain relief.
  • A plastic drain tube in your abdomen to help drain away any blood and fluid from the operation.
  • A urinary catheter, a tube which passes up your urethra into the bladder, to help us monitor your urine output.

Most of these tubes should be removed after two to three days. The urinary catheter will remain for five days to allow the internal stitches to heal.

Recovery from the operation

Eating and drinking is usually encouraged as little as six hours after the operation. Whilst you are in hospital, your transplant nurse will encourage you to record everything you drink and measure the urine you pass, even after your urinary catheter has been removed. This will help us to check how well your transplanted kidney is working.

On the first day after your operation your nurses or physiotherapist will help you out to your chair for a few hours where you will be taught how to carry out deep breathing exercises. You will be encouraged to be mobile around the ward as soon as possible as this will help speed up your recovery and reduce your chances of getting a chest infection or a blood clot in the leg. You are likely to be in hospital for six to ten days following a kidney transplant. However this could be longer depending on your condition and your recovery.

Following discharge you will be seen in the outpatient clinic very regularly, twice a week to start with. After a period of time these clinic visits will alternate between a telephone clinic and face to face (F2F) visits.

Although you should be able to take a shower after your operation the specialist nurse in clinic will advise you about when you are able to resume taking baths and the use of creams/oils to aid healing.

Wound care

There are three different ways used to close the wound after your transplant operation:

  • Staples: these will be removed in clinic three weeks after your operation.
  • Glue: this will eventually dissolve. For the first few weeks, try and keep the wound area as dry as possible when showering and avoid long hot baths.
  • Stitching: your surgeon will advise you if these are dissolvable or require removing in clinic.

One of the transplant specialist nurses will look at your wound when you come to your clinic appointment to ensure that it is healing. If it is not healing sufficiently, we may want to use a special type of dressing, this is called VAC therapy. The specialist nurse will explain this system to you fully, should you require it.

Complications associated with kidney transplantation

Problems associated with kidney transplantation

About half of all transplanted kidneys will not work immediately; this is called delayed graft function. It may take several days for your transplanted kidney to start working and you may need haemodialysis during this time. If your kidney takes more than a few days to start working properly, or temporarily stops, your doctors may take a tissue sample (biopsy) of the transplanted kidney to see if your body is rejecting it. This would take place while you are still an inpatient after your transplant.

Failing to drink enough may lead to dehydration which can damage your transplanted kidney. You might find it difficult to drink plenty of fluid after your kidney transplant, especially if you had previously been restricting your fluid intake. To help prevent complications associated with dehydration you should aim to drink between two and three litres of fluids a day unless we have told you otherwise. If you start to develop diarrhoea and vomiting it is essential to increase your fluid intake to prevent yourself from becoming dehydrated. If you are unable to keep your fluids and transplant medications down then you should contact your transplant team or GP for advice.

High blood pressure is very common following a kidney transplant, particularly during the early months. After a kidney transplant many people require blood pressure lowering medication. It is vital to control high blood pressure as, if left untreated, you could be at risk of heart disease or a stroke and it can damage your transplanted kidney.

Roughly 30 in 100 patients will experience acute rejection within the first six months of their transplant. Your body will recognise that your transplanted kidney is ‘foreign’ and the natural response is to attack and reject it. You will have been given anti-rejection medication to reduce the chance of this happening; these medications will need to be taken for the life of your kidney transplant, sometimes longer if you would like another transplant. Rejection is treated by changing the dose of your anti- rejection medication and/or by prescribing a new medication in addition. As rejection can be detected following one of your regular blood tests it is critical that you attend your clinic appointments regularly. Rejection does not necessarily mean loss of your transplanted kidney. The signs of rejection can include:

  • pain or tenderness over your transplanted kidney
  • fever
  • fatigue/weakness
  • reduced urine output
  • flu like symptoms
  • sudden weight gain
  • swelling in hands or feet
  • a rise in blood pressure

Some patients will experience anxiety and mood swings as the transplant operation can put a lot of stress on you and your family. It is very common for patients or relatives to have anxieties. There are counselling services to help you adjust to life at home. Please ask your transplant team for more information or refer to the advice and support numbers at the bottom of the page.

Problems associated with the medication taken after transplantation

There is a small chance that you could develop diabetes (raised blood glucose) as a side effect of your anti-rejection medication. It can affect any transplant recipient, but those with a higher weight (or body mass index, BMI) are at increased risk. Diabetes is a serious disease that is associated with many health problems. At your clinic visits, the transplant team will be regularly checking your blood glucose level. If this is raised, you may be asked to have a further blood test to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for diabetes can include some or all of the following:

  • a simple change to your anti-rejection medication
  • changes in diet (low sugar diet)
  • changes in lifestyle such as increased exercise and losing weight
  • taking tablets or injecting insulin

You are twice as likely to develop cancer if you are on anti-rejection medication compared with the general population who aren’t taking anti- rejection medication. In particular you will be more prone to skin cancer. For this reason we encourage you to protect yourself from the sun by using powerful sun screens (SPF 30+) and avoiding direct exposure to the sun, even in the winter months.

The anti-rejection medication will make you more likely to develop infections. The risk is greater in the early stages after your transplant because the doses of your anti-rejection medication will be higher. It is important that you inform your transplant team if you think you have an infection. If you know family or friends who have a serious infection it is a good idea if you avoid visiting them while they are unwell.

The majority of infections for example wound, urinary and chest infections are caused by common bacteria, which can be treated with antibiotics. However, because of your anti-rejection medications you are also at risk of other infections that can usually be prevented or treated. With time the increased risk of infection lessens but never goes away completely. The following are some of the most common infections:

Fungal infections


This is caused by a fungus called candida. It can infect your wound, mouth, eyes, respiratory and urinary tract. In the mouth, thrush can cause soreness, a white film on the tongue and difficulty in swallowing. It can also infect the oesophagus or gullet (the tube from your mouth to the stomach). In women, thrush can also infect the vagina, causing an abnormal discharge and itching. Severe fungal infections may require you to come into hospital for treatment.

Viral infections

Three quarters of the UK population have had cytomegalovirus (CMV), the symptoms are similar to a cold or flu. If you have not had a CMV infection prior to your transplant then it can be passed on to you through the transplanted kidney. If you have had the virus in the past it can become re-activated after your transplant. In order to prevent a CMV infection, we give you tablets (valganciclovir) for the first few months after your transplant, when you are most at risk of developing a CMV infection. As CMV can still occur once these tablets have been stopped, we regularly test for it in your blood when you come to clinic. Signs of CMV infection include fatigue, fever, sweating (especially at night), aching joints and headaches. If you are unwell with CMV, you may need to be admitted to hospital for treatment.

Taking Valganciclovir may damage an unborn baby, therefore it should not be taken if you are pregnant or planning to start a family in the near future. Tell your doctor straight away if you become pregnant. You need to use effective contraception whilst taking Valganciclovir and for at least 30 days after you have stopped taking it. Men should use a condom during treatment with Valganciclovir and for at least 90 days after stopping the drug, unless it is certain that the female partner is not at risk of pregnancy.

Most adults have had a BK virus infection without knowing it. Following your transplant, BK virus can re-activate. This will not make you feel unwell but it can damage your transplanted kidney. Treatment of BK virus involves reducing your antirejection medication in order to allow your body’s immune system to clear the virus. We regularly test for the virus in your blood when you come to clinic and occasionally we will need to take a biopsy (tissue sample) of your transplanted kidney to make sure that the virus is not causing inflammation.

Cold sores

Cold sores [herpes-simplex virus (HSV) types 1 and 2] generally infect the skin around the mouth causing painful blisters. They can also turn up in other areas of your body including the eyes, lungs and genitals. Herpes can be treated, but not cured, by using creams and medication available from your GP or local pharmacist.

Shingles (herpes zoster) appears as a rash or small blisters usually on the side of the face, chest, abdomen or back. The rash may not be painful and only occurs in people who have had chicken pox in the past. Call your GP or transplant team immediately if you think you have shingles as you will need treatment.

Chicken pox

Chicken pox (varicella) may appear as a rash or small blisters. Chicken pox usually occurs in childhood. If you have been exposed to someone with chicken pox or shingles and you do not think you have had chicken pox, please contact your GP or transplant team immediately, do not wait to see if you are going to be sick.

Other infections

Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-19)

Because you have received a solid organ transplant you are now considered to be ‘clinical extremely vulnerable’ (CEV) and if the government reintroduced it, you would need to shield. If you are not already fully vaccinated we encourage you to receive the full course of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. Please keep yourself up to date with the current government guidelines by logging on to the website (opens in a new tab).


Pneumocystis is a germ that is normally found in the lung. After your transplant you will be given tablets (co-trimoxazole) to prevent you from catching this. Symptoms can include breathlessness and a cold or flu that does not go away.

It is important that you contact your transplant team if you think you have any of the above infections.

Going home

Below is a checklist of items you need to take home with you:

  • A supply of your prescribed medication. This will be arranged by the transplant pharmacy team before you leave.
  • A list of your medication including their names, doses and how often they should be taken.
  • A clinic appointment (ensure you have transport booked if required).
  • A white topped urine specimen bottle labelled with your name and hospital number to bring to your next appointment.

When you get home

Once you have been discharged home it is important that you are aware when you should seek medical advice. You should contact your transplant team or the ward for urgent medical advice if you think you have suddenly developed one of the following in the first few weeks after your transplant:

  • abdominal pain that is not controlled by your pain relief
  • reduced urine output
  • blood in your urine
  • bleeding
  • fevers or a raised temperature of 38°C or above
  • diarrhoea and/or vomiting for more than 24 hours
  • chest pain
  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling in the face, stomach or legs.

If you are unsure and cannot get over the phone advice, please phone NHS emergency and urgent care services on 111 or attend your local accident and emergency department.

Medications after transplant

Before you are discharged from hospital the transplant pharmacy team will go through your new medications with you, giving you information on what to take, when to take it and why you need to take it. If you require any advice or have a concern about your new medications you can email the transplant pharmacy team or call them on 01223 254934.

Non-prescribed medication

Ideally you should avoid using non-prescribed medication, such as recreational drugs, herbal medicines or remedies, diet and beauty pills/medicines, and body building drugs. These types of medicines have been known to cause irreversible kidney damage. Many of them may also interfere with your anti-rejection medications and could make your anti-rejection medication less effective or cause side-effects. However, if you do wish to take them, please be honest with your transplant team and check with us before taking them. We need to try to keep you safe.

Clinic arrangements

Following discharge from hospital you need to attend regular transplant clinics in the outpatients department at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. For the first few weeks it is very important that we see you twice a week to make sure both you and your transplanted kidney are OK. Over time these clinic appointments will become less frequent and will alternate between face to face visits and telephone clinics. Before you leave hospital the ward will make your first clinic appointment for you. When attending clinics please remember:

  • Do not take your morning dose of tacrolimus or ciclosporin on your clinic days until you have had your blood test. Ensure that you bring the dose with you to clinic so that you can take it as soon as you have had your bloods taken.
  • Bring an up to date list of your medications with you.
  • Make sure you have an appointment for your next clinic before you leave.

If you are unable to attend the clinic for any reason, please inform the clinic using the contact information at the front of this booklet.

If you were referred from the dialysis centres in Basildon, Ipswich, Norwich, Stevenage (Lister), Peterborough, Chelmsford (Broomfield), Kings Lynn or Jersey you will normally be referred back to your local hospital three to six months after your transplant operation. Once you’re referred back your anti-rejection medication supply needs to come from the local hospital you are seen at.

Transport to clinics

We encourage you to arrange your own transport to and from clinic as strict rules apply to determine whether hospital transport can be provided for you. However, for the first six weeks post-transplant only you may be eligible for hospital transport, this is unfortunately out of our control and determined by your CCG. You will need to call the following number to attempt to book transport for this period:

For advice on public transport and parking at Addenbrooke’s, please see our travel and parking information or contact the Addenbrooke’s travel helpline on 01223 586655.

Stent removal

About six weeks after your transplant you will receive an afternoon clinic appointment, this will coincide with one of your regular clinic appointments, to attend Addenbrooke’s for your stent removal. It is a simple procedure performed using a local anaesthetic.

During the stent removal, the transplant surgeon will gently insert a local anaesthetic jelly into your urethra. This will numb and lubricate the area enabling the smooth passage of the cystoscope (bladder telescope). The stent will then be removed, during which you may briefly feel some discomfort or pressure. The procedure takes about 15 minutes. Make sure that you drink plenty of water afterwards, as this helps to flush out the bladder. If you have any questions or want to discuss the procedure further, then talk to the transplant nurse or doctors before you are discharged.

Your health after a kidney transplant

Feel fit and enjoy life!

Before your transplant you may have felt too weak and tired to exercise. Many transplant patients find that after they have recovered from the surgery, they have more energy and are eager to increase their level of activity. Once you have been discharged from hospital we encourage you to gradually increase the amount of exercise you take without allowing yourself to become too tired. To avoid developing potential complications please follow the following advice carefully:

  • Avoid lifting heavy weights for at least six weeks, gradually increasing the weight you can carry.
  • Avoid repetitive tasks such as vacuuming or mowing the lawn for the first six weeks.
  • Avoid the temptation to become stooped over your wound, worsening your posture and increasing the risk of back pain.
  • Gradually improve your exercise tolerance in order to avoid the complications associated with poor levels of fitness.
  • Extreme athletic exercise should be avoided for twelve weeks.
  • The only sports to avoid are those where you might get a direct blow to the kidney, for example rugby, boxing or martial arts.

Although your ability to exercise will depend on you as an individual, regular exercise is important for your general health and wellbeing. Incorporating 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine will:

  • lower your risk of developing diabetes following a transplant
  • help to keep your weight down
  • help prevent other health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Exercise classes and gym memberships can provide a structured environment to exercise, however daily activity does not need to be expensive. Consider simple things that you can do every day:

  • try parking further away from work or other destinations to increase the distance you need to walk
  • cycle to work, rather than drive
  • climb the stairs instead of taking the lift

Remember - all activity counts!

Returning to work

As a guide, you should anticipate being off work for at least six weeks, but this will depend on how you are doing and the job that you do. When you feel you are ready to return to work please speak with one of the transplant team for advice.

Stop smoking

Smoking is harmful to your health and will reduce the life of your transplanted kidney! Smoking will also increase your chances of developing cancers and chest infections because of the anti-rejection medication you will be taking. We strongly advise that you give up smoking as soon as you can, more advice on stopping smoking can be provided by your GP or by visiting the NHS website (opens in a new tab).

Skin care

Skin cancer

You are twice as likely to develop skin cancer if you are on anti-rejection medication compared with the general population who aren’t taking anti-rejection medication. Skin cancer is a result of damaged skin caused by the ultraviolet (UV) radiation rays from the sun or tanning bed. Careful avoidance of sun exposure and daily use of sunscreens, SPF 30 and above, will help reduce the risk to the skin. You should regularly inspect your skin for signs of skin cancers. The pictures below give examples of the commonest types of skin cancers:

A series of images showing the most common types of skin cancers, Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma

You should discuss any new or concerning moles/blemishes with your GP.

Dry skin

If you are having problems with dry skin, use a mild soap and put on a body lotion after showering. If you have cuts or scratches ensure that you clean them. For larger cuts contact your GP. If you discover any unusual skin growth, rash or discoloration, contact your GP.

Tattoos and piercings

Tattoos and piercings bring a risk of viral and bacterial infections. We advise you to wait six months after your transplant before getting a new tattoo or piercing. Then only use a licensed studio.

Body image

The way we see ourselves is complex and has many contributing factors. These are all unique to every one of us. Scars left behind from surgery, intravenous lines and drains can alter your body image. These will become less visible in time. There are also some side effects from certain anti-rejection medication which may contribute to a negative body image. These may include weight gain and excessive hair growth. These symptoms are likely to diminish as the doses of your medication are reduced over time. If you are very concerned, please speak to the doctor when you see them in the transplant clinic – it may well be that some alteration in medication will improve things. If you have any particular worries regarding how you feel about your body after transplantation you can speak to one of the transplant team for advice.

Hair care

Illness and steroid treatment may change the condition of your hair. Permanent hair dyes, tints, wave lotions and bleach may cause your hair to become brittle and break. It is recommended that you wait until your steroid (prednisolone) dosage is lower than 10mg a day before perming or colouring your hair. If you notice that your hair becomes thinner, this will usually recover spontaneously but may take several months. If the problem persists please discuss this with the transplant team.

Dental care

Make sure that your dentist knows that you have had a kidney transplant and what medication you are taking. It is advisable to have routine dental checks every six months and maintain good dental hygiene. Non-healing mouth ulcers could be a sign of oral cancer and should be investigated by your GP.

Eye care

You should wait until your medications have been reduced before purchasing new glasses/contact lenses (usually about six months after your transplant), as your vision can alter in the first few months. It is important to have an eye test (at least every two years), to ensure early detection of any eye problems.

Sexual activity

You can resume sexual activity as soon as you feel well enough to as it will not harm your transplanted kidney. Sexual functioning can be affected by dialysis, transplantation and some medications. If you have any concerns, please feel free to discuss them with one of the transplant team. If you are sexually active and do not have a steady sexual partner, you should use condoms to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. You should also use contraception to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.

Pregnancy and contraception

Having a kidney transplant doesn’t mean you can’t have a baby. However, due to the medication you will be on we advise you to avoid becoming pregnant for at least one year following a kidney transplant. If you are planning on or have recently become pregnant then it is essential to discuss your plans with the transplant team as it may be necessary to change some of your medication to make your treatment safe for you and your unborn child, particularly if you are taking Valganciclovir and/or Mycophenolate or mycophenolic acid. This is the current contraception advice while taking these medications;

Female patients

Valganciclovir – use effective contraception during and for at least 30 days after treatment

Mycophenolate \ Mycophenolic acid – use at least one effective form of contraception during and for 6 weeks after stopping treatment. Two forms of contraception are preferred but no longer mandatory.

Male patients

Some of the medications you may be prescribed after a transplant can affect your sperm, so it is important for male transplant patients and their partners to use effective contraception after transplantation:

Valganciclovir – use a condom during treatment and for 90 days after stopping.

Mycophenolate \ Mycophenolic acid – although there is a very small chance that this medication could affect sperm, there is no evidence of any harm to children fathered by men taking mycophenolate or mycophenolic acid. Some patients choose to switch to an alternative medication if their partner is intending to get pregnant. However, this risk must be balanced against the increased chance of experiencing rejection if you change medications. For most transplant patients, it is likely to be better to continue to take mycophenolate – discuss with your transplant doctor.


The information below outlines some of the vaccines you can and can’t have. For vaccines not covered below please speak to the transplant team before getting them.

Safe vaccines (inactivated)

  • Influenza vaccine (yearly)
  • Inactivated Covid vaccines
  • Pneumococcal vaccine
  • Tetanus vaccine
  • Inactivated shingles vaccine (Shinarix)
  • Rabies vaccine
  • Inactivated polio vaccine (in a combination product)
  • Polysaccharide typhoid vaccine (Typhium Vi)

Unsafe vaccines (live)

Please note: this is not exhaustive. Please always check.

  • Live influenza vaccine (Fluenz Tetra)
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (Priorix, MMRVaxPro)
  • Rotavirus vaccine (Rotarix)*
  • Shingles vaccine (Zostavax)
  • BCG vaccine
  • Oral typhoid vaccine
  • Varicella vaccine (Varilrix, Varilvax)
  • Oral polio vaccine (only used for outbreaks)
  • Yellow Fever Vaccine
Health care for women

Your anti-rejection medication will increase your risk of developing cancers such as cervical, breast and bowel cancer. We recommend that you routinely check your breasts for lumps and speak with your GP for advice on screening programmes such as cervical smears, mammograms and bowel screening tests.

Health care for men

Your anti-rejection medication will increase your risk of developing cancers such as testicular and bowel cancer. We recommend that you routinely check your testicles for lumps and speak with your GP for advice on screening programmes such as bowel screening tests.

Foreign travel

If you are planning on travelling abroad it is essential that you follow our advice to minimise the risk to yourself and your transplanted kidney.


Your anti-rejection medication will make you more prone to picking up infections while abroad. You can reduce the risk of getting these infections by following simple advice such as:

  • avoiding drinking tap water (including ice cubes)
  • increasing your daily fluid intake if in a hot climate
  • ensuring the food that you eat is cooked properly
  • avoiding salads and other raw fruits and vegetables that have been washed in tap water
  • avoiding swimming in areas, such as rivers or seas, that do not have their water quality checked regularly or are known to have waterborne diseases/parasites.

When planning a trip abroad you need to check well in advance which vaccinations are required, as you must not receive live vaccines whilst taking anti-rejection medication. This is because a live vaccine given to an immunosuppressed person can cause the disease it is trying to protect against, this can cause serious illness and has resulted in death.


Once you have advice from a travel clinic or your GP about the recommended malaria prophylaxis for the areas you are visiting, you should speak to the transplant team as some anti-malarial treatments can affect the levels of anti-rejection medication in your blood. When travelling to areas that are affected by malaria, you should try and minimise the risk of being bitten as contracting malaria whilst on anti-rejection medication can be very dangerous.


It is very important to get adequate travel insurance before travelling abroad. You should ensure your insurer has full details of your condition. For European travel you need a European Health Insurance Card, which is available free online via the NHS website (opens in a new tab).

Transplant medication and travel

Obtaining supplies of your transplant medication whilst away from home can be very difficult and/or very expensive. You should always take more supplies than you will need for the trip; ensuring that you spread your supplies evenly between hand luggage and your suitcase in case one gets lost or stolen.

Dietary advice following your kidney transplant

While you are in hospital or during your clinic visits you will be seen by a dietitian who will advise you on your specific dietary needs. One of the great benefits of a successful kidney transplant is that you can enjoy a more varied diet. However, during the early stages after the transplant operation you may be advised to continue restricting certain foods until your new kidney is working properly.

Food hygiene

It is important, during the first three to six months after a transplant whilst you are on higher doses of anti-rejection medication, that you avoid eating foods that may cause food borne infections such as listeria, salmonella, E. coli and Hepatitis E. Examples of such foods include unpasteurised cheese, milk or yoghurt, and raw/undercooked meats, fish and eggs. Your dietitian will go through this in more detail with you and discuss any dietary specific questions that you may have.


You should continue to follow a no added salt diet to help prevent high blood pressure.

Particular Fruit

You should avoid having grapefruit/ grapefruit juice, pomegranates, pomelo and Seville oranges because they interfere with the level of anti-rejection medication in your blood.

Calcium and vitamin D

Transplant patients can be at a higher risk of developing weak bones (osteoporosis) which can break more easily than normal. Adequate vitamin D and calcium in your diet can help lower the risks of breaks (fractures). Good sources of calcium include dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurts; fish with bones, eg sardines or tinned salmon; green leafy vegetables, for example broccoli; and dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Exposure to sunlight is our main source of vitamin D, but as a transplant patient you are recommended to take protection from the sun. Instead try to include good dietary sources of vitamin D, such as oily fish e.g. sardines or mackerel; cooked eggs, margarines, and fortified breakfast cereals.

Healthy diet and weight gain in the long term

You should now be able to enjoy a much greater variety of foods since you no longer have the dietary restrictions needed when you were on dialysis. After you have recovered from your transplant the advice is to follow a general healthy eating diet for good weight control and overall health, which is the same as the rest of the population. Your dietitian will cover this in more detail if you are concerned about your weight and will discuss your dietary needs on a more individual basis.

Further information

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact your dietitian in the department of nutrition and dietetics on 01223 216655.

Thanking your donor family

You may wish to find out a little bit about your donor. To ensure confidentiality of the donor family is maintained we are only able to tell you their approximate age and gender. In time, you may wish to write a letter to your donor’s family. The decision to write to your donor’s family is a personal choice. It may be the most difficult letter you have had to write. However, it may help you to know that nearly all donor families express appreciation for the cards and letters that they receive from recipients and their families, and occasionally they will write a reply. If you do decide to write a letter or card the following suggestions may help you:

  • use your first name only
  • mention your family or friends
  • mention your hobbies or interests
  • write about how your lifestyle was affected by kidney failure and its treatment
  • say how long you waited for your transplant
  • explain the benefit of transplantation for your lifestyle and health
  • show how much this means to you and your family or friends
  • you may wish to thank your donor’s family for the unique gift they have given you
  • try to keep the language simple and sincere
  • be aware that your donor’s family freely decided to donate their loved one’s organs to benefit others
  • do not mention what area you live in or your hospital
  • All letters should be sent to your recipient transplant coordinator for forwarding to the donor family. This is a confidential service.

Advice and support

Following your kidney transplant, you may find the following support services offered by Addenbrooke’s Hospital useful:

Addenbrooke’s renal counsellors

Our renal counsellor team are available to offer help and support to those in need of emotional and psychological support when coming to terms with renal failure and kidney transplantation. They can be contacted on 01223 400186 or by email:

Addenbrooke’s renal social care practitioner

The renal social care practitioner can offer advice on benefits, financial support and housing issues after kidney transplantation. They can be contacted on 01223 400186 or via email:

Addenbrooke’s patient advice and liaison service (PALS)

The PALS holds regular sessions with the Citizens Advice Bureau. For further information you can contact the PALS office on: 01223 216756 or 01223 257257 or email PALS.

Transplant unit patient support group

This is an opportunity for patients to get together and learn from one another by sharing experiences. It takes place most weeks in the day room on the transplant ward. The patient support group is open to all inpatients and relatives. More information can be obtained from Addenbrooke’s chaplaincy and multi-faith community (Telephone: 01223 217769).

Other external support groups

Addenbrooke's Kidney Patients Association (AKPA)

Who are we?

We have members from all over East Anglia including dialysis and transplant patients, relatives, friends, nursing and medical staff. The charity’s trustees are elected each year at the AGM and are all volunteers. We are affiliated to the National Kidney Federation who promote issues affecting kidney patients at a national level.

What do we do?

The main purposes of the AKPA are to help people suffering from kidney disease and to inform the public of our patients’ needs. You can find out more information on the Addenbrooke’s Kidney Patient Association website (opens in a new tab).

The Addenbrooke's transplant games team

If you enjoy sport you can enter the British Transplant Games. Although athletics and swimming predominate the games there is a range of other pursuits including darts, golf, archery, bowls, snooker, squash, badminton, tennis, table tennis, walking, cycling, volley ball, fishing and a mini marathon. When competing in the games you may be offered the chance to represent the United Kingdom in the World Transplant Games. Further information about the British Transplant Games and how to enter can be found via emailing the Addenbrooke's Transplant Games team

About this leaflet

‘Information for patients after a kidney transplant’ is written with contributions and advice from many members of your renal transplant team and from patients and their families. This document is designed to be continuously updated to include the most up-to-date advice. Whatever your role in kidney transplantation, if you are reading this text, your comments and suggestions for improvements to this document are very welcome.

Privacy and dignity

Same sex bays and bathrooms are offered in all wards except critical care and theatre recovery areas where the use of high-tech equipment and/or specialist one to one care is required. We are a smoke-free site: smoking will not be allowed anywhere on the hospital site. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151