Ask the Doctor
Questions about kidney disease? Risk factors? Signs and symptoms? Are you concerned about yourself, a friend or family member? Ask Dr. Spry.
Immunosuppressant is a term used to describe a number of drugs or medicines that suppress or lower the body's ability to reject a transplanted organ. Another term for these drugs is anti-rejection drugs. Examples of immunosuppressants used for kidney transplants are: cyclosporine, azathioprine, prednisone and FK 506.
When you get a kidney transplant, your body knows that the new kidney is foreign (that is, not originally part of your body). Your body will attack the new kidney and try to damage or destroy it. The immunosuppressant drugs suppress your body's ability to do this. The goal is to adjust these drugs to prevent rejection and to minimize any side effects of the drugs.
Almost everyone who has a transplant must take these drugs every day as directed. If your new kidney came from an identical twin, however, you may not have to take them. Even missing a single dose may make it more likely for you to have a rejection. The only time you should skip a dose is if your doctor or other health care team member tells you to do so. If you are not sure, call your doctor.
Because of the large number of pills transplant patients may need to take each day, forgetting a dose is easy to do. Two things can be done to prevent this. First, you must know the name of each drug you take and what it does. If you have a good understanding of your drugs, you will be less likely to forget one. A second thing you can do is use a pill box or organizer. This is a device that allows you to set up an entire week of pills at once. Once the week is set up, all you have to do is take the pills in each on the right day and time.
Take it as soon as you remember and call your doctor. If it is time for the next dose, do not take a double dose.
Yes. Even though you are taking your medicines every day, you may still develop rejection of the kidney transplant. You need to know your body very well. If you have any of the following, you should call your transplant center right away:
The transplant center will probably ask you to have some blood tests and maybe other tests. The long-term success of your kidney transplant depends largely on careful follow-up and a good working relationship between you and your transplant team.
Yes. One of the side effects of these drugs is an increased risk of infections. This is more of a problem in the early period after a transplant or following treatment of a rejection because the dosage of these drugs is higher at these times. You should call the transplant center if you have:
If you would like more information, please contact us.
©2013 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. No one associated with the National Kidney Foundation will answer medical questions via e-mail. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.