Getting back to activities after a transplant

Find out when you can work, drive, go on holiday and play sports

Key points

  • If you were working before the transplant, most people are able to go back to work within 4-6 months after a heart transplant
  • You can normally drive after 8 weeks
  • Most patients can travel abroad after 12 months
  • You’re encouraged to do moderate exercise under supervision in hospital and to continue this with a gradual increase over the next 6-8 weeks

The road back to normality

For the first 12 months after a heart transplant there will be frequent clinic visits to check your health and the health of your transplanted heart. This will include biopsies of the heart on most visits during the first year.

After a year, you are likely to be seen every 3 months. After 2 years, you may only need to come to the clinic every 6 months if you remain well.

When can you…

Go back to work

Most people are able to go back to work within 4-6 months after a heart transplant. But this depends on your recovery and the type of work you do. Some jobs, for example heavy manual work, might require more recovery time. Everyone is different. Please ask your transplant team for more information.

Drive again

You can normally drive again around 8 weeks after a heart transplant. It’s important not to start driving too soon as you could risk damaging your surgical wound. In most patients there is no restriction on driving a car, van or motorbike, however special tests are required if you want an HGV license.

Go on holiday

After the first year, travel to most parts of the world is possible. Overseas trips before this are not recommended. But you may be able to go on holiday in the UK during the first year if you can plan the trip around your clinic appointments.

Do you need vaccines for your holiday?

Please speak to your transplant team before you travel to find out which vaccines are safe for you. Live vaccines are not safe.

Play sports and other activities

Patients who have a heart transplant report increased energy and the ability to exercise freely. If your recovery is going well, after 2-3 weeks, you will usually be encouraged to start walking more. Most sports and activities are possible but you should avoid heavy contact sports (rugby, martial arts, boxing) as these risk damaging your chest wounds.

Have sex

It’s recommended you wait at least 6-8 weeks before you have sex to let the surgical wounds heal. Pregnancy is not recommended while you’re recovering. You may need to use contraception after your transplant to avoid pregnancy. Please discuss safe methods of contraception with your transplant team.

Speak to your transplant team about what you can do

They will be able to advise when it’s safe for you to go back to work, travel, drive, and do other activities.

More information

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