General Health Guidelines

Certain factors can affect your health before and after transplant surgery. You should always contact your doctor with specific questions or concerns.

Health factors that can affect transplantation


Transplant patients should abstain from alcohol because it can alter the effects of transplant medications and impede liver function. Henry Ford provides addiction treatment for those who need it.

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Female transplant patients should not use intrauterine devices (IUD) due to a potentially higher risk of infection. They also may need to avoid oral contraceptives. These medicines may interfere with anti-rejection medications, affect liver function, raise blood pressure and increase the risk of blood clots. See sexual health and pregnancy.

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Dental care

Transplant patients must take prescription antibiotics before undergoing any type of dental work, including teeth cleaning. Your doctor or dentist can prescribe this medication. Follow the medication guidelines.

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You may have certain dietary restrictions depending on your transplant type. Henry Ford nutritionists can work with you to make sure your nutritional needs are met.

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Light physical activity, such as walking, can help you get stronger, build endurance and maintain a healthy weight. Our physical therapists and exercise physiologists can help you start a safe exercise routine. Transplant recipients should avoid hard contact sports, such as football, boxing, basketball and ice hockey.

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Hepatitis B vaccine

Patients who test negative for hepatitis B and who have not been vaccinated for the illness need to be immunized prior to transplant surgery. This immunization consists of three injections given over a six-month period. See immunizations.

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Avoid vaccines that contain live weakened viruses, such as smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella and the influenza nasal spray. You also should avoid being around children who have recently received these types of live vaccines. Talk to your doctor if your child needs a vaccine containing a live weakened virus. Your child may be able to get a different vaccine that contains a killed virus.

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Impotency is sometimes caused by certain transplant medications or by factors related to transplantation such as fatigue. This condition should improve over time. Talk to your doctor about your concerns. See sexual health.

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Animals can transmit bacteria and diseases to their owners. To reduce your risk of exposure, do not let your pet lick your face, sleep in your bed or climb onto kitchen or bathroom counters. Always wash your hands after petting or feeding an animal. Let someone else clean up your pet’s waste. Certain pets, such as reptiles, carry a higher risk of bacterial infection. Talk to your doctor about the safest ways to care for pets.

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Female transplant recipients should talk to their doctors if they wish to become pregnant. Most recipients need to wait at least 2 years after transplantation before trying to conceive. By this point, you should be taking lower dosages of transplant medications. Certain medications are not safe to take during pregnancy. See also contraception and sexual health.

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Sexual health

You can resume sexual activity as soon as your doctor clears you. It may take some time for a woman’s menstrual cycle to return to normal following transplantation. However, couples should still use contraception to prevent pregnancy.

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Skin care

Transplant medications can make you more prone to skin problems, including skin cancer and acne. The Henry Ford Dermatology Department offers a special skin care clinic for transplant patients. Learn more about our Dermatology Clinic for Transplant Patients.

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Nicotine found in tobacco products slows the healing process; damages the heart, lungs and blood vessels; and increases your risk of cancer. Henry Ford offers Tobacco Treatment Services to help patients and family members kick the habit.

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Excessive bacteria in public pools can cause infection. Do not use a public pool until at least 1 year after your transplant. Your doctor may allow you to use a private pool as long as you closely monitor the water for bacteria.

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Check with your doctor to see when it is safe to travel. It is usually best to wait at least 6 months after a transplant before doing extensive travel. If you plan to travel abroad, contact your doctor to see what immunizations are necessary and safe.

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Wound care

Notify your doctor if you notice any redness, soreness, swelling or foul-smelling drainage from the incision site. These changes are often signs of infection. To reduce the risk of infection, take showers instead of baths and follow the wound care guidelines provided by your doctor.

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Take the next step

Speak with a Transplant specialist.


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