Sunday, August 16, 2009

Warning Signs of Transplant Rejection

After having a kidney transplant, or any other organ transplant, you will be required to take anti-rejection medicine for as long as your organ is functioning. The purpose of kidney transplant medications is to prevent our bodies from attacking our new kidney.

This is needed because our body's immune system cannot tell the difference between a new kidney and viruses or bacteria that might attempt to harm out body. In order to keep us healthy, our immune system destroys all foreign objects like viruses and bacteria, but in the process will also try to destroy our transplanted kidney.

The process where our immune system mounts an attack on your new kidney is called rejection. Rejection has a bigger chance of happening during the first year after transplantation and goes down over time, but it never goes away.

Here is a list of the warning signs of rejection.

1. Fever over 100°F or 37.8°C
2. Elevated Blood Pressure
3. Sudden and rapid fluid retention (rapid weight gain or swelling of the ankles)
4. Flu-like symptoms (dizziness, vomiting, headache, fatigue)
5. Discolored, bloody, or foul-smelling urine
6. Reduction of the amount of urine
7. Pain over the transplant site
8. Pain or burning during urination
9. Elevated serum creatinine level
Of all the warning signs, I have noticed that the most indicative is a rise in creatinine. Most of the time, you don't feel anything during a rejection episode except that the creatinine results have gone up. This is why it is important to have regular labs and doctor check ups.

As a guide, a sudden rise of 0.4 from your normal levels is a sign that something is happening. For example, your regular creatinine levels are 1.2, so a value of 1.7 or above will be a cause of concern.

Before you start to worry, I've learned that a sudden rise in creatinine does not always mean a rejection episode is happening. There are other possible reasons for a rise in creatinine which we'll talk about in a later post.

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1 comment:

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