Top Transplant Tips and Hacks

Jun 21 10:00am | Kristin Eggebraaten | @keggebraaten

Your doctor does their best to provide you with direction about what you should do and not do after your transplant. Your weakened immune system and recovery require you to live life a bit guarded after your transplant surgery. Since your doctor is likely not a transplant patient, their source of information is based on their clinical experience.

Beyond this great information and experience, what if you could also get some tips, or life hacks, from other transplant patients who have been there, done that?

In Mayo Clinic’s online community, Mayo Clinic Connect, members routinely share their best post-transplant hacks that helped them recover and get back to living their best life. We thought you might enjoy them brought together in a handy list.

Rosemary, a transplant recipient at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester, Minnesota, had the following to say about her hacks: “I remember being told that it is all about choices and risks involved. I want to assure you that my choices as to how to live after transplant are just that: mine. We can become friends, chat, share ideas on how to live our lives — but ultimately your own post-transplant care team is your primary judge and jury on your important issues. You will find what is comfortable and what works for you as you move forward.

Here are some of the top hacks Rosemary and other Mayo Clinic Connect Transplants Group members identified, in hopes it will help make your life easier after transplant:

Maintaining a Healthy Diet

  • Avoid unpasteurized foods, such as dairy, juice and cider.
  • Wash food before preparing.
  • Make most of your meals at home.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for modifications if you choose to eat in a restaurant.

Taking Your Meds

  • Write out and keep a schedule for taking your medications.
  • Create a daily medicine reminder so you don’t forget.

Flying on an Airplane

  • Wear a face mask.
  • Bring sanitizing wipes to clean the arm rests and tray tables.
  • Bring your own beverages and snacks.
  • Do not use equipment belonging to the airline, such as blankets.
  • Choose your seat based on your preferences - an aisle seat allows you to easily get up and walk around periodically. A window seat is further away from the aisle traffic and only seats you with one neighbor.

Keeping Fit

  • Wear a fitness tracker.
  • Go walking.
  • Attend water exercise class.
  • Practice yoga.
  • Consider working with a trainer.

Practicing Good Hygiene

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Keep hand sanitizer with you at all times.
  • Carry along a face mask to use if you feel the need.
  • Maintain general cleanliness personally and in your home.
  • Clean hands after touching money or other items many people may have handled.

Managing Your Interactions

  • Avoid sick people, school children and those who’ve traveled abroad recently.
  • Be aware of the flu and COVID levels and other health risks circulating in your area.
  • Encourage your family members, coworkers and others with whom you associate regularly to cover coughs or sneezes.
  • Stay away from crowds. Consider, for example, going to the 1 p.m. matinee movie instead of the evening showing. Try a new restaurant in mid-afternoon instead of the busy lunch and dinner times.
  • Stay in a transplant patient lodging facility when traveling for transplant-related care.
  • If you have workers in your home, use disinfectant spray or wipes on all surfaces after they leave.
  • Try some alternatives to handshakes: American Sign Language hand sign for peace, bumping elbows or simply smiling and nicely saying, “I’ve had a transplant and my doctors ask me not to shake hands.” If you really want to shake hands, follow it with hand sanitizer.

Listening to Your Body

  • Allow yourself time to heal.
  • Don’t overdo it. Consider saying “no,” even to activities you’d enjoy, to avoid exhaustion. Know it is okay to pass on some functions.
  • Take time for yourself. Stay home, relax and take it easy.
  • Ease up on physical activities for a while.
  • Treat yourself to a nap.
  • Return to your hobbies as you feel interest and ability, or perhaps pursue new ones.
  • Consider whether your career is appropriate to your recovery, especially if it’s very demanding. Think about whether it might be helpful to make some changes or even retire.

Dining Out

  • Request special treatment of your food at a restaurant.
  • Set eating utensils on an extra napkin to avoid leaving them on the table.
  • Avoid eating foods that have dropped on the table or that you observe a server touching inadvertently.
  • Look out for food bits on the edge of your plate, as this may indicate where the chef touched the eating surface.
  • Drink your beverage from a straw to dispel any doubts about the cleanliness of the glasses, or take along your own water bottle.
  • Choose restaurants that have menus or menu sections for various restrictive diets.
  • Use hand sanitizer after handling a menu, condiment bottles or salt and pepper.
  • Choose restaurants where food is brought to you and try to avoid buffets and potluck situations.
  • If you are concerned about eating food in a certain environment, eat something before you go, take your own food along or try drinking coffee instead.
  • If you are eating out at someone’s home, explain to the hosts beforehand that you have special diet needs.

We hope these hacks, which patients in the discussion group have found helpful, will be useful for you following your transplant. At the same time, however, please be sure to consult your own transplant care team if you have any questions about which tips and tricks are right for your situation.

What post-transplant hacks have worked for you?



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