Although immunosuppressants help prevent rejection of a new organ, they also slow down the body’s immune system, thus affecting the body’s defense against germs. Transplant recipients can therefore get infections more easily because their immune systems are suppressed. It is also more difficult for transplant recipients to recover from infections, and minor infections can become very serious and even lead to death if untreated.
Common infections in transplant recipients
There are three general time frames during which infection can occur in the post-transplant period: first month, second through sixth month, and after the sixth month.
|Time Post-Transplant||Likely Source of Infection|
After 6 months
Take extra precautions
Organ recipients should be aware of ways to combat germs and be sure to call their doctors at any sign of infection. Prevention of illness is the key to a healthy life, and check-ups are vital to preventing illness.
Because the risk of bacterial and fungal infection is greatest in the first few weeks after your surgery, it may be necessary to take the following precautions:
- Avoid indoor crowded places like stores, movies, restaurants and churches in the first few months after transplantation.
- Avoid people with known infections or illnesses.
- Avoid taking care of animals.
- Avoid working outside or in your garden.
- Wash your hands frequently–it’s a safe and effective way to stop some infections before they start.
- Good dental care is important. You should brush and floss daily, and see the dentist regularly. You may also need an antibiotic before routine dental cleaning visits.
- If you get a cut or scrape, cleanse the wound and apply a clean, dry dressing. If any sign of infection develops (fever, pain swelling or redness), contact your doctor.
- Avoid buildings unders construction or destruction.
In addition, be sure to talk to your doctor about medications, including vaccines that may be recommended to keep you healthy.
Reference and Publication Information
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is committed to providing accurate and reliable information for transplant patients. The content on this page was originally created on August 15, 2003 by UNOS and last modified on August 15, 2016. The following sources were used as references:
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, retrieved May 15, 2014.
Medscape, retrieved June 9, 2005.
This Web site is intended solely for the purpose of electronically providing the public with general health-related information and convenient access to the data resources. UNOS is not affiliated with any one product nor does UNOS assume responsibility for any error, omissions or other discrepancies.