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COVID-19: What You Need to Know Post-Transplant

Adeze Ojukwu

COVID-19 has continued to generate more questions than answers.

The pandemic no doubt poses more challenges to vulnerable persons notably the elderly, people living with underlying conditions as well as transplants.

However the distress occasioned by the disease and its psychological, physical, financial and health challenges, can be overcome with a positive disposition and compliance with the guidelines and protocols recommended by World Health Organization(WHO).

You may also note the advisory from the United States(US) Center for Disease Control(CDC).

‘Older adults and people who have certain underlying conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 illness.’

The agency further highlighted three important ways to slow the spread as follows:
‘Wear a mask to protect yourself and others and stop the spread of COVID-19. Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others who don’t live with you. Avoid crowds. The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed to COVID-19. A strong immunity is a strong defense in dealing with many disease including COVID-19.’

People living with transplants are encouraged to work assiduously and concertedly with their nephrologists and health experts in order to reduce risks.

Nutrition is also very important in dealing with this condition. It is therefore delightful to note the dietary tips written by a pharmacist, Dr Stacy Crow.

Do enjoy the article tagged: What You Need to Know Post-Transplant: Common Nutrient and Herbal Interactions

Fruits and vegetables are healthy dietary choices for most people. As common “healthy” staples on many plates, it is easy to forget that certain fruits and vegetables can interact with transplant medications. Some herbal products may also have similar interactions.

Why do certain foods cause interactions?

These interactions are usually due to either the natural ability of the food to activate the body (even in ways that can be similar to medications) or as a result of drug-food interactions with medications.

For transplant recipients, the most frequent interactions are those that activate the immune system and those that affect the ability of the drug to enter or exit the blood. As a result, some foods and herbal products are no longer safe to consume after receiving a transplant.

What foods should I avoid after receiving a transplant?

The below fruits and juices may interact with your immunosuppression, causing toxicity. They should be avoided.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice. Please note that some citrus-flavored drinks have a grapefruit extract in them, so it is important to check ingredient lists.

Pomegranate and pomegranate juice
Seville Oranges

Normal oranges are fine in moderation.
Other fruits and vegetables that should be consumed in moderation are grapes, cranberries, tangerines, cauliflower, and broccoli.

What supplements or herbal products should I avoid after receiving a transplant?
Many supplements and herbal products have drug interactions with your immunosuppression or may increase the risk of toxicity or rejection. Please talk to your transplant doctor or pharmacist before starting any new supplements or herbal products.
Some of the more popular herbal products that can have adverse interactions include:

Vitamin C preparations
St. John’s Wort
Herbal teas: green tea, chamomile, peppermint, dandelion
Echinacea
Ginseng
Feverfew

Living with a transplant requires achieving a balance between having enough of a natural defense system to protect from everyday sicknesses such as a cold or the flu and lowering the immune system enough to protect the transplant from being attacked and rejected by the body.

Please talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about what foods, medications, or herbal supplements are safe to use after transplant.

The next article is also enlightening. It is tagged: Post-Transplant diet. The source is https://www.sgkpa.org.uk/main/ptdiet

One of the benefits of a successful kidney transplant is that you can enjoy a more varied diet.

Potassium
Successful transplants should mean that your previous potassium restriction is relaxed. Your dietitian and doctor can further advise you about how to reintroduce high potassium foods, such as bananas, coffee, nuts and chocolate. When you have been advised you can reintroduce potassium containing foods, be sure to do this gradually for example, one new item a day and not everything all at once.

Phosphate
Phosphate binders are stopped after a kidney transplant and you should no longer need to follow a phosphate restriction.

Calcium
Long term steroid use can weaken your bones and increase the risk of fractures. Sufficient calcium intake may help prevent this. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yoghurts, tofu, calcium-enriched soya products (choose lower fat options if you are conscious of your weight).

Salt
Continuing to follow a no added salt diet is recommended to help prevent high blood pressure. Avoid adding salt when cooking or at the table, instead you could try using pepper, herbs, spices, lemon juice, vinegar etc which will not affect your blood pressure.

Grapefruit
After a transplant you should avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice because grapefruit interferes with the levels of the anti-rejection medication. You should also check things which may contain grapefruit such as mixed fruit juices.

Thanks for your attention and do continue to enjoy a good and healthy life.

.Ojukwu is a Fellow of Hubert H Humphrey Fellowship, publisher, editor and serial newspaper columnist. She is a campaigner and advocate for improved socio-economic and health services for all citizens, as well as the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGS). Please kindly send feedback to [email protected]

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