Safe preparation and foods to avoid after an organ transplant

Transplant recipients must follow a strict diet after their surgery to prevent getting a foodborne illness. Due to their immunosuppressive medications that keep their bodies from rejecting a new organ, transplant recipients are more susceptible to developing infections, and a foodborne illness can make a patient seriously ill.

The transplant diet is a low microbial diet, focused on food safety. Special dietary interventions may also be required to balance medication side effects, such as elevated potassium or blood sugars.

The University of Chicago Medicine’s transplant dietitians educate patients about their new eating habits and the changes they’ll need to implement into their daily lives.

“We do the transplant surgery so that person could eat, go out, and enjoy their life,” says UChicago Medicine registered dietitian Mary Ellen Kolodiej. “They’ll just have to think about what they’re eating and ordering. It’s extra work, but after what these patients have been through, they’re willing to do it to stay healthy.”

Here are some of the main takeaways from our experts and the USDA-recommended diet for transplant patients