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Conveying useful healthcare system information, including for organ donation and transplantation, as well as a social media emphasis.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why ‘every tablet every time’ is so important for transplant recipients

No conversation about an organ transplant surgical procedure is complete without mention being made of one other important topic. That is the absolute necessity for additional medicines to be given post transplant, otherwise known as the ‘immunosuppressive medications’. So why are these types of medicines needed? Why do transplant recipients need to understand the importance of the saying “every tablet every time”?
Well it is all about the fact that our ‘immune system’ is designed to protect us by repelling anything from entering our bodies that is not made up of our own tissue. This includes bacteria, viruses and yes vital transplanted organs. A very general overview of how our immune system works can be obtained via this YouTube video.

Hence these white blood cells (lymphocytes), and other related factors need to be kept suppressed by medications as summarised in this article via  News Medical This prevents the newly transplanted organ from being ‘rejected’.

These extra medications will commence in most cases around the time that the organ transplant surgical procedure occurs. Initially quite high dosages are usually required and as a result side effects may occur, as summarised via this article from the National Kidney Foundation 

In order to limit the long term consequences of all of the possible side effects from these medications, many transplant recipients will ultimately be managed on the lowest dose that is possible. Hence why taking “every tablet every time” is essential. Skipping medications can allow the immune system to be triggered, which then contributes to premature loss of the vital transplanted organ. No one wants this outcome.

General information on ‘immunosuppressive medications’ can also be obtained via web sites maintained by legitimate professional organisations for e.g. eMedicine Medscape or Up to Date

NB: Immunosuppressive medication regimens do vary markedly, as there are many factors which go into the decision making as to which medications are suitable for each recipient. Hence this is why all transplant recipients if they have any concerns over their medications, need to also seek advice from their treating doctor.