For at least a few weeks afterwards, do not over-do things. But also do not lounge around all day. The aim of the transplant is for you to return to a normal life style. Start socialising with friends, family and meeting new people as soon as you feel well enough.
Let good nutrition and exercise be part of your healthy lifestyle. Everything and anything in moderation until you are completely stable.
- Avoid foods that may interact adversely with your medication.
- Maintain good food hygiene while preparing your meals.
- Maintain personal hygiene, including dental hygiene
- Clean open wounds and cuts with antiseptic. Consult your GP if your wound becomes red and painful.
- Always check with your transplant doctor if another doctor suggests you should receive any immunisations. The Mantoux test for tuberculosis and immunisations for yellow fever and polio for example are not recommended as are any other immunisations using live or weakened bacteria or viruses. However, influenza vaccinations or immunoglobulins are okay.
- Reduce the risk of infection by maintaining your hygiene and reporting symptoms early. If possible, avoid coming into contact with people who have a cold or the flu.
- Avoid coming into close contact with children or people with chicken pox or measles and other viral and bacterial infections.
For more on caring for your new heart after discharge and the precautions to take, please refer to the section on “After your Transplant”.
Stages of returning to normal activity, including work
Resuming normal activities gradually, only if you feel up to it. Engage in normal activities like catching the bus and going to the movies, and attending parties.
It is recommended you start slowly in the first instance. This also includes sexual activity. If in doubt, ask your doctor. Don’t be shy – they have heard it all before. It is also important that female recipients discuss contraception methods to prevent pregnancy in the early months following a heart transplant.
Returning back to work is a big step and you should carefully consider and plan your return well in advance. Consult with your transplant team before you resume work. There may aspects of your job that you may not be able to resume immediately or even in the near future. Please refer to the section on “life Skills” (Place link here) for more information.
Driving after Transplant Surgery
You may wish to resume driving as soon as possible after your surgery. You must check with your doctor to clarify when it is safe to drive. You can resume driving after six weeks post-transplant depending on the type of surgery you have had and the size of the wound. Before driving, ensure that your wound is healing well, that you are alert and not fatigued, no longer experiencing significant pain or taking medications that can cause drowsiness.
For information on assessing fitness to drive, please visit the website www.austroads.com.au . The guidelines on this website outline the responsibility drivers, health professionals and the licensing authorities. The rules for driving are very clear and are set out to protect you, the transplant doctors and the general public.