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Advice for kidney transplant recipients

Transplant recipients should follow general advice given to the community. There has been no sign of increased cases in transplanted patients yet, but this is being tracked carefully in Australia.

We recommend you try to speak to your renal specialist or transplant unit with your specific concerns and to take all precautions that are recommended at this time regarding COVID-19. Please continue to take all prescribed medications as normal and ensure you have two weeks of medications on hand.

There is no need for alarm but people with kidney transplant should be aware that, just like with the flu, they are at a higher risk of severe symptoms and complications from coronavirus. Coronavirus, just like any viral infection, can affect your affect your kidney function especially if you become very unwell, dehydrated or get another infection on top, and there is a risk of developing acute kidney injury (AKI). Kidney Health Australia has a sick day management plan, which we recommend all patients and health professionals to follow, please download here.

Access to medications

The Australian Government has subsidised the home delivery of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) medications. Importantly this service removes the need for a patient to visit the pharmacy in person. The delivery service will be free of charge for eligible customers. Learn more here.

Immunosuppressing medication

Do not stop taking your medications without speaking with your doctor first. There are risks associated with stopping medication. There is currently no recommendation to change immune system medications for transplant patients. Only undertake this in consultation with your specialist.

Anti-inflammatory medications

The evidence regarding ibuprofen and COVID-19 risk and outcomes is not definite, but nevertheless people living with kidney disease should still proceed with caution due to the risk of drug-related acute kidney injury.

In addition, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can affect kidney function in people with chronic kidney disease and these should only be used under direction of your doctor.

CARI Guidelines

Transplant patients and COVID-19 prevention and treatment - Recommendations from the CARI Kidney guidelines group have been released. These information sheets for patients are based on the CARI Evidence Summary: Clinical care of people with a kidney or kidney-pancreas transplant during a COVID-19 pandemic. Download the infographic. Download the summary sheet.

Work

Depending on your job, your employer may already have made provisions and plans for working at home. Should this not be possible, we would encourage you to talk to your employer regarding your concerns, take all precautions and talk to your renal specialist or renal unit.

In addition, it is important to adhere to the social distancing measures put in place by the government, learn more here.

Groceries and takeaway food

At this time take all precautions that are recommended regarding COVID-19 including opting for contactless delivery, pay via card instead of cash, or ask a friend or family member to pick up the food and drink on your behalf.

There is no indication that takeaway food is unsafe now, however, as always, purchase food from a reputable food outlet.

It's also a good time to think about eating healthy food, takeaway often has a lot of salt, sugar and fat, learn more here.

Living with someone with COVID-19 symptoms

We strongly recommend that person have their symptoms confirmed with the GP. It is important they call the local GP and discuss this with them before presenting at the clinic. They may need to be tested.

It is also important you make sure you always maintain a safe distance from that person and practice social distancing as per the recommendations until it is known whether they are infected or not.

If you identify that someone you live with or have come in contact with is infected with COVID-19 you should immediately notify your GP, kidney doctor or renal unit and receive further specialised advice.

Facemasks

Currently, there is no recommendation to wear a face mask if you are not sick or have not been recommended to wear one by a medical professional. Surgical masks in the community are only helpful in preventing people who have coronavirus disease from spreading it to others. If you are well, you do not need to wear a surgical mask. There is little evidence that widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people prevents transmission in public.

What will help protect you is social distancing and good hand hygiene.

Mental Health

As the number of coronavirus cases rise across Australia, the level of anxiety within the community is increasing. We have a number of tips for looking after your mental health on our website, in addition, the Australian Psychological Society has resources for coping during this crisis.

- Tips for coping with social isolation

- Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety