Rejection

Signs of Rejection

Signs of Rejection

It is important to know what the signs and symptoms of transplant rejection are, as you may need to alert your transplant team urgently if you experience any of these. General symptoms of rejection of any organ include:

• Fever over 38°C (100°F)
• Flu-like symptoms such as chills and body aches
• Nausea
• Pain in the area of the transplant

If you experience any of these symptoms, even if they seem mild or develop slowly, contact your transplant team straight away.

There are also organ-specific signs of rejection which are different depending on which organ was transplanted. Click on your transplanted organ below.

  • Kidney

    In addition to the general symptoms (fever, flu-like symptoms, nausea) the following are also symptoms of kidney transplant rejection:

    • Urinating less or not as often
    • Weight gain
    • Swelling of hands and ankles
    • Shortness of breath

    If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your transplant team straight away.

    At review appointments, the transplant team will do routine tests to check for other signs of rejection. These tests may include measuring creatinine from a blood sample, which indicates how well the kidneys are functioning, and biopsies of the transplanted kidney, in which a small sample of kidney tissue is taken away for testing.

  • Liver

    In addition to the general symptoms (fever, flu-like symptoms, nausea) the following are also symptoms of liver transplant rejection:

    • Yellowish skin or eyes (jaundice)
    • Light-coloured bowel movements
    • Dark-coloured urine
    • Itchy skin

    If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your transplant team straight away.

    At review appointments, the transplant team will also do routine tests to check for other signs of rejection. These may include a biopsy of the transplanted liver in which a small sample of liver tissue is taken away for testing.

  • Pancreas

    In addition to the general symptoms (fever, flu-like symptoms, nausea), the following are also symptoms of pancreas transplant rejection:

    • Abdominal pain 
    • Fluid retention which makes your ankles swell
    • Urinating less or not as often (if you have had a kidney-pancreas transplant)
    • High blood sugar
    • Weight gain
    • Shortness of breath

    If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your transplant team straight away.

    At review appointments the transplant team will do routine tests to check for other signs of rejection. In combined kidney-pancreas transplants the function of the kidney is often enough to indicate the function of the pancreas. However, if rejection is suspected, a biopsy of your pancreas might be performed, in which a small sample of tissue is taken away for testing.

  • Heart

    In addition to the general symptoms (fever, flu-like symptoms, nausea), the following are also symptoms of heart transplant rejection:

    • Swelling of arms, legs or ankles
    • Sudden weight gain
    • Shortness of breath
    • Extreme tiredness
    • Palpitations (a feeling that your heartbeat is fast or irregular)

    If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your transplant team straight away.

    Rejection of a transplanted heart often has no symptoms, so to detect rejection before the heart starts to fail, biopsies are performed regularly, particularly during the first year after your transplant. Coronary angiograms can also be performed to check that the important blood vessels on the surface of the heart (coronary arteries) have not become too narrow to function properly.

  • Lung

    In addition to the general symptoms (fever, flu-like symptoms, nausea), the following are also symptoms of lung transplant rejection:

    • Shortness of breath
    • Feeling tired all the time (fatigue)
    • Dry cough
    • Wheezing

    If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your transplant team straight away.

    At review appointments the transplant team will also do routine tests to check for other signs of rejection. These tests may include a biopsy of your lung in which a small sample of tissue is taken away for testing.

     

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