Life after your transplant

Wellness and healthy living after hand transplant

The Mayo Clinic Transplant Center team knows that you want not only a successful transplant but also a healthy, full life afterward. To make that possible, your transplant team works with you to ensure that you return to an active lifestyle once you've healed from your transplant surgery. Social workers, transplant coordinators, physical therapists and other transplant team members support you along your post-transplant journey of health.

Learning to use your new hand after transplant

After your hand transplant, you'll work with a hand therapist to learn to move and use your new hand. You'll begin hand therapy in the hospital and continue hand therapy for several months after your transplant.

Your hand therapist will give you exercises to help you learn how to move your fingers and wrist. Over time, your finger and wrist movement may improve. Once your movements are stronger, your hand therapist will teach you how to use your hand to grasp and release objects.

Make physical activity a regular part of your life to continue improving your health and fitness after your hand transplant. Your hand therapist will work with you to develop an exercise program that best fits your needs.

Diet and nutrition after your hand transplant

After your hand transplant, you may need to adjust your diet to help you recover, stay healthy, and prevent infection and illnesses. Your nutrition specialist (dietitian) and other members of your treatment team will work with you to create a healthy-eating plan that meets your needs, complements your lifestyle and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Your dietitian also will provide you with several healthy food options and ideas to use in your eating plan. Your dietitian's recommendations may include:

  • Eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Eating whole-grain breads, cereals and other products.
  • Drinking low-fat milk or eating other low-fat dairy products, to help maintain enough calcium.
  • Maintaining a low-salt and low-fat diet.
  • Avoiding grapefruit and grapefruit juice due to their effects on a group of immunosuppressive medications (calcineurin inhibitors).
  • Following food safety guidelines.

Coping and support

Living with a hand transplant, or waiting for a hand transplant, can be difficult, and it's normal to have fears and concerns.

Having support from your friends and family can be helpful. Also, you and your family may benefit from joining a support group of people who understand what you're going through and who can provide support. Support groups offer a place for you and your family to share fears, concerns, difficulties and successes with people who have had similar experiences. You may meet people who have already had a transplant or who are waiting for a transplant.

To learn about transplant support groups in your community, ask your transplant coordinator or social worker for information. Also, several support groups are offered at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.

Jan. 17, 2024