Organ Rejection after Renal Transplant

Even with the use of immunosuppressants, your body can at times recognize your transplanted organ as a foreign object and attempt to protect you by attacking it. Despite immunosuppression medications, 10-20% of patients will experience at least one episode of rejection. If and when you suffer an episode of rejection, remember it does not mean:

  • you will lose your new kidney
  • your new kidney is failing

Most rejections are mild and easily treated by making adjustments to immunosuppression medication dosages.

Rejection occurs most often in the first six months after transplant. The chance of rejecting your new kidney decreases with time, but rejection can occur at any time after transplant. Most rejection episodes do not have symptoms and are usually picked up through routine bloodwork. However, if symptoms do occur, the most common signs of rejection are:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fever of 101° F or greater  
  • Decreased urine output
  • Weight gain
  • Pain or tenderness over transplant
  • Fatigue

If you develop any of these symptoms, contact your transplant team at once.

There are other signs of rejection that can only be detected by routine blood testing. This is why we frequently draw blood during your hospitalization and at your follow-up clinic visits. In addition, a kidney biopsy is almost always necessary to determine if rejection is actually occurring.

We manage a rejection episode by making adjustments to your medication dosages. Treatment of rejection usually requires a few days of hospitalization, allowing us to administer alternative immunosuppressants and observe your progress.