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Medical Information from the NKF - Know your numbers - Transplant

 

Introduction

The NKF launched a “Know Your Numbers Card” for Dialysis Patients in Autumn 2000. The card was an instant success and enabled patients to monitor their own condition and seek advice should the vital numbers show up a possible problem. The NKF is now pleased to launch a Transplant version of the “Know Your Numbers Card” (copies in the Autumn 2001 edition of Kidney Life).

If you have kidney failure, you need regular monitoring by hospital staff. This leads to better treatment. The effectiveness of your treatment can be assessed using the numbers from the many measurements and blood tests that are taken. Knowing your numbers will help you to:

  • Assess for yourself how well your treatment is going
  • Explain some of your symptoms
  • Know if your treatment needs changing
  • Compare your results with national targets

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How do I find out my numbers?

You should be told your numbers by hospital staff when you attend for appointment or during a home visit. If not, ask for them. Staff should all be able to discuss your numbers with you.

What if the numbers are outside the normal range?

There are many reasons why one or more of your results may not be within the normal range. It is important that you ask the renal staff to explain to you the reasons why this has happened in your case. Discuss with them the best treatment for you - this will be based on the results of your tests and physical examination and on your individual needs. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or the health care team if you have any questions or problems.

Always check the local normal range for the numbers with staff as it may vary between hospitals, and alter the targets for some bloods.

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What numbers are measured?

Creatinine: Creatinine is an important waste product removed by the kidney. A low level in the blood means the kidney is working well, a high level means the kidney is working less well. There is not a ‘normal’ range for creatinine in transplant patients but the average creatinine level in transplant patients is 150 µmol/L.

Haemoglobin: (Hb) is the substance in red blood cells which carries oxygen around the body. Too low a level of Hb is known as anaemia. Anaemia causes tiredness, shortness of breath and paleness - it may need treatment with iron or with erythropoietin (EPO) injections.

White cell count: White cells are found in the blood and are an important part of the body’s defence against infection. Too low a level can mean there is a risk of infection.

Potassium is a mineral that is normally removed by the kidneys and by dialysis. Too high or low a potassium level may cause a disturbance to the rhythm of your heart.

Blood Pressure is the pressure produced by the heart to pump blood around the body. Too high a blood pressure increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes and is treated by blood pressure tablets.

Weight: Weight gain occurs in almost everyone after a transplant. This is a good thing up to a point, because many people on dialysis are under their natural weight. However, excessive weight gain must be avoided.

Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a type of fat carried in the blood. Fatty narrowings of blood vessels which can cause heart attacks, are more likely to occur if the cholesterol level is too high.

Drug level: Some of the anti-rejection drugs prescribed to transplant patients work best when the concentration of the drug in the blood is in a target range, and individuals may need frequent dose changes to keep their blood level in this target range.

StandardTarget
Creatinine Ask your doctor
Haemoglobin 110-165 g/l for women, 120-180 g/l for men
White cell count 4-11 x 109/l
Potassium 3.5-5.5 mmol/l
Systolic BP ≤ 130mmHg
Diastolic BP ≤ 80 mmHg
Cholesterol Under 5.0 mmol/l
Weight Ask your dietician
Drug level Ask your doctor or nurse

In 2013 a change has been made to the reporting of haemoglobin from grammes per decilitre to grammes per litre.  This means that a haemoglobin of 10.5 g/dl is now 105 g/l.  So multiply the old haemoglobin level by ten to get the new one.

How to Download a Continuation Card

To download a Continuation card for printing, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. This can be obtained free from the Adobe web site or from the cover CD-ROM of many computer magazines.

To start the download, click on the thumbnail image of the Know Your Numbers Card below. The blank white screen that appears when downloading will be replaced by the form when the download is complete - please be patient (download times are indicated for slow to medium modem speeds).

Instead of opening the Continuation Card in your browser, you can save it to your computer hard disk. To do this, right click on the thumbnail image below and then, on the drop down menu, click on ‘Save Target As’ (Internet Explorer) or ‘Save Link’ (Netscape/Opera).

Picture of Numbers Card

PDF icon194 Kb (54 secs @ 28.8 Kilobits/second)

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Supported by an educational grant from Wyeth Laboratories.

Note: This website also contains ‘Know your Numbers’ details for dialysis patients.


The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor.

NKF Controlled Document No. 183: Know your numbers - Transplant written: 16/11/2001 last reviewed: 28/08/2015