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Diabetes and organ transplant

As many as 1 in 3 people develop high blood sugar or diabetes following an organ transplant, such as a kidney transplant.

In some cases, specific drugs to stop the body rejecting the new organ, called anti-rejection drugs, have the side-effect of triggering diabetes.

Because drugs like the steroid prednisolone, cyclosporine, and  tacrolimus are needed to stop the body rejecting the organ, they still have to be taken even if they have caused diabetes.

Some ethnic groups are at greater risk of developing diabetes after a kidney transplant, including people who are black or of south Asian origin. A family history of diabetes also increases the risk.

Because diabetes is a common condition, some people who would have developed it anyway may assume an organ transplant was the cause.

In the early months after a transplant, blood glucose monitoring will be recommended as well as checking for symptoms of diabetes, such as thirst and frequent urination.

Managing blood glucose levels is important for general health, as well as the health of the new organ.

Treatment for diabetes after an organ transplant

In some cases, medication may be prescribed for diabetes. Lifestyle changes may also be recommended, including:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Keeping good control of blood sugar
  • Exercising
  • Getting regular medical care
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on December 21, 2017

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