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Medicina dello Sport 2014 December;67(4):703-32


language: English, Italian

Sporting activities and solid organ transplantation

Roi G. S. 1, Totti V. 2, Zancanaro M. 1, Mosconi G. 3, Trerotola M. 4, Nanni Costa A. 4, Antonetti T. 5, Anedda A. 5

1 Isokinetic Medical Group, Education and Research Department, Bologna, Italy; 2 Associazione Nazionale Dializzati e Trapiantati (ANED), Milan, Italy; 3 Unit of Nephrology, Ospedale Morgangni-Pierantoni, Forlì, Italy; 4 Centro Nazionale Trapianti, Rome, Italy; 5 Unit of Sports Medicine, AUSL Parma, Italy


This article summarizes the published data and several practical experiences of organ transplant patients who practice sports, with the purpose of giving a picture which can help to understand the real performance possibilities of these patients and any limitations and/or contraindications to practising competitive sports. Literature indicates that solid organ (heart, liver, kidney) transplant recipients who practice competitive sports show good tolerance to immunosuppressive therapy, good function of the transplanted organ at rest and under exertion, good overall physical condition as a result of training, and a positive perception of their psycho-physical condition. In transplant recipients, the risks connected with sports are those of infection and cardiometabolic risks due to the side-effects of immunosuppression. The first is tackled with suitable prophylactic measures (personal hygiene, vaccinations). The second is tackled primarily with personalised exercise and used as a drug and also suitable pharmacological therapies. Traumatological risk does not appear to be hazardous for the transplanted organ, even in several contact sports such as football and basketball. There is evidence of transplant recipients who have returned to practice sports at the same level as that before the illness which had led them to the transplant, succeeding in competing on a par with healthy athletes of the top or Master category, while we are not aware of transplant recipients who have reported negative consequences for the transplanted organ because they practice sport, even at competitive levels. Transplant recipients who practice sports at an amateur or professional level cannot be considered representative of the entire population of transplant recipients, but they do offer a unique opportunity to become acquainted with the higher limits of the possibilities of functional recovery after a transplant. This aspect should be considered to formulate the criteria for granting fitness for competitive sports and, above all, it allows to use these experiences to contrast the belief according to which transplants and sports cannot coexist.

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