THE RIGHT CARE AFTER A KIDNEY TRANSPLANT
Kidney transplants have become a fairly common procedure, with more than 19,000 performed across the country last year — a number that has grown in each of the last four years.
But as more transplants have successfully transformed the lives of those receiving new kidneys, it also means that more community physicians — most of whom lack special training in transplant medicine — take care of them after an initial period of follow-up care at transplant centers.
Managing the care of transplant patients is complex. They must take a number of medications and follow dietary advice to avoid rejection of their new kidney. That care becomes even more complicated if patients have other medical conditions requiring treatment that might interfere with their transplant recovery.
University Transplant Center, a partnership of University Health System and UT Health San Antonio, began publishing easy-to-follow guidelines for the treatment of adult kidney transplant patients. The guidelines are aimed at making the complex care of these patients more standardized and understandable both for its team and for the doctors who take care of patients after they’ve completed several months of follow-up visits with the transplant staff.
“These are very user-friendly protocols,” said Dr. Suverta Bhayana, a nephrologist with University Transplant Center who co-wrote the new guidelines. “So if you have a patient with a kidney transplant and high blood pressure, it tells you how to manage their pressure differently from somebody else. Or if they have diabetes, management might be a little different in a transplant population.”
The guidelines, co-written by nephrologist Dr. Rupal Patel, will be reviewed and updated every six months to make sure they include the most recent research findings and expert consensus.
The outcomes of patients who receive kidney transplants across the nation are updated and publicly reported every six months by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, ensuring patients in need of transplantation can make informed decisions when selecting a transplant center.
University Transplant Center’s kidney transplant program has among the best outcomes in Texas — its one-year survival rates are the best in San Antonio and fourth-highest statewide.