Travelling after an organ transplant
What patients need to know when on holiday
Following a transplant operation and once the new organ has stabilised, short trips are a possibility after around six months. Patients can begin to consider longer-haul destinations after around one year.
When planning a long-distance trip, patients should make sure that the country to which they are travelling offers good medical care. Tropical countries where it is essential to take certain drugs, such as anti-malarial medicines, should be avoided. Generally speaking, travel to temperate climates is recommended. Patients should involve their doctor(s) in their travel plans as early on as possible.
Important: Immunosuppressants weaken the immune system. Infections caused by insect bites/stings or from other sources spread through an immunocompromised body faster and are sometimes more difficult to control. It is therefore imperative to protect against preventable infections.
Food and drink
In some countries, there is a risk of infections being transmitted in drinking water or contaminated food. The safest way to avoid this is to cook food, peel fruit and vegetables and avoid eating certain foods. This generally includes – both at home and on holiday – an absolute ban on grapefruit and grapefruit juice. They contain a substance that has a major impact on how immunosuppressants are metabolised.
Protection against insects/vaccinations
To protect against insects, it is recommended to wear light-coloured clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Mosquitos that are active during the daytime tend to react more strongly to dark objects. Other steps to take:
Depending on your destination, you may need to be vaccinated against rabies, cholera, typhus, meningococcal infections and possibly yellow fever. Hospitals, doctors and institutes for tropical diseases can provide specific information on vaccinations that may be required.
Paperwork and travel documents
For some countries, patients will require a certificate outlining their diagnosis and medications (in the language of the respective country). All documents must be signed, stamped and marked with the patient’s name and passport number. It may be helpful to add the following note: “For personal use only; no commercial value”.
We also recommend: