Kidney Transplant and Diving

Transplant patients would be at little risk of sport diving given good recovery from the surgery and no evidence of organ rejection. However, there are risks for diving in the marine environment while taking immunosuppressants (see Marine Infections and Diving in Polluted Water). In addition to increased risk of infection by organisms not ordinarily pathogens, there is alo the effect the drug protocols have on the bone marrow (anemia) and on blood clotting (hemorrhage from barotrauma of the ears, sinuses and lungs). It is thought by some that spinal decompression illness is worsened by hemorrhage from a clotting deficit.

There is also the possibility of pulmonary fibrosis from the immunosuppressing drugs. The dangers from pulmonary fibrosis would be the increased risk of hypoxia with low oxygen transfer and the increased risk of pulmonary barotrauma from blockage of the terminal airways. (air trapping).

Fitness to Dive?
It is thought that if there has been a sufficient period of time after the transplant to assess the function of the kidney as concerns the renal and cardiovascular system (blood pressure, pulmonary function) – usually about one year – and if a person has no adverse drug reactions – that a person can return to diving, considering the discussion above.

Kidney Donor Diving?

Given complete recovery from any surgery required for the donation, there would be no reason for the donor not to dive.


Ernest S. Campbell, M.D., FACS

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