Initial follow-up after kidney transplantation is conducted at weekly intervals, but as recovery progresses, patients are seen on a monthly basis. In addition, every effort is made to coordinate home-based follow-up care through referring physicians. One year after transplant, clinic visits become progressively less frequent, until they reach a once or twice yearly follow-up schedule.
Several medications are required to prevent a transplanted kidney from being attacked by the recipient’s immune system. At present, most kidney transplant recipients at Tufts Medical Center receive “prednisone-free” immunosuppression. This spares them from the most common drug side effects seen in the past, while maintaining excellent outcomes. All medication and dosage combinations are carefully tailored to each patient, and these medicines must be taken for life. If medications are stopped for even a few days, the transplanted kidney can be damaged or lost.
Most cases of rejection can be brought under control, although some long-term, slow forms of rejection may not be manageable. Such “chronic rejection” is the main cause of kidney transplant loss over time. The best way to prevent chronic rejection is by strictly adhering to the immunosuppressant regimen.