Discharge Instructions for Transplant Patients

You had an organ transplant. A doctor replaced a diseased organ with a healthy one from a donor. After an organ transplant, you take medicines that may alter your immune system so it won’t reject the new organ. This protects the new organ, but it increases your risk for infection.

Here are some ways to protect yourself from infection after your transplant. You will continue these precautions until your healthcare provider tells you to stop. You may need to follow these guidelines for the rest of your life.


  • Get plenty of rest and take breaks between activities.

  • Increase your activity gradually. Start with light exercise, such as walking.

  • Check with your healthcare provider before driving a car.

  • Don’t swim until your healthcare provider says this activity is OK. Then wear ear plugs and nose plugs. Don't swim in lakes or streams.

  • Don’t do yard work such as gardening, mowing the lawn, or raking leaves until cleared by your healthcare provider. Then, use a mask when doing these activities.

  • Ask your healthcare provider when you can go back to work or school.

  • Don't ride a bike until your healthcare provider says it's OK.

Skin care

  • Wash your hands often with soap and clean, running water, especially after using the bathroom.

  • Wash your hands with soap and clean, running water before taking care of your incision and central venous catheter, if you have one.

  • Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about caring for your incision and changing your dressing.

  • Cover the central venous catheter site with waterproof material before showering.

  • Ask your healthcare provider if sun exposure is safe.

Keep your home clean

  • Clean floors, carpets, furniture, and countertops regularly with a standard cleaning solution that is bactericidal.

  • Be sure your bathroom is clean.

  • Wash your hands after handling trash.

Other ways to help prevent infections

  • Ask your healthcare provider what to do before kissing or having close, intimate contact. Also ask when you can resume sexual activity.

  • Wear a mask when you walk through healthcare facilities, construction areas, windy places, or any area with dust or fumes.

  • Ask your healthcare provider before using cosmetics, contact lenses, tampons, or douches.

  • Limit contact with animals:

    • If you have contact with an animal, wash your hands right away.

    • Don't have contact with pet urine or feces.

    • Don’t clean litter boxes, cages, or aquariums.

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products. Don't let other people smoke in your home.

  • Don't expose yourself to chemicals and fumes such as gasoline, fuel oil, paints, bug or weed killers, and fertilizers.

  • Don’t use portable humidifiers or vaporizers.

  • Don't have contact with anyone who has a cold, the flu, or another contagious condition such as measles, chickenpox, herpes, pinkeye, coughs, or a sore throats.

Other home care

  • Managing your transplant can be stressful for you and your family. Let your healthcare provider know if you or other family members need help dealing with the physical, emotional, and financial issues that a transplant can cause.

  • Take your medicines exactly as directed. Don’t take any other medicine, over-the-counter medicines, supplements, or herbs unless your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

  • Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects.

  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, but be sure to wash them thoroughly before eating them.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Unusual bleeding that you can't easily control

  • Vomiting

  • Small amount of blood in your stool, or black or tarry stools

  • Diarrhea that does not go away after 2 loose stools

  • Pain or cramping in the stomach

  • Less urine (if you've had a kidney transplant) 

  • Irregular blood sugar, or you find it hard to control blood sugar (if you've had a pancreas transplant) 

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38˚C) or higher or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Mild shortness of breath

  • Severe headache

  • Confusion

  • Mild dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Signs of infection around the incision. These include redness, drainage, warmth, and pain.

  • Feeling very tired

  • Swelling in the legs, feet, hands, or stomach gets worse

Call 911

Call 911 if any of the following occur:

  • Unusual bleeding that you can't easily control

  • Vomiting blood

  • A lot of blood in your stool or large amount of black or tarry stool

  • You feel very dizzy or lightheaded

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Any chest pain

  • Very short of breath

Online Medical Reviewer: Jonas DeMuro MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Maryann Foley RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Ronald Karlin MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2021
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.