After Liver, Kidney or Pancreas Transplantation:
Preventing Rejection and Fighting Infection
After you receive your organ transplant, you will be taking medications to prevent rejection of your new organ and to fight infection. Preventing organ rejection and fighting infection is a delicate balance that requires close attention and care for the rest of your life.
Rejection occurs when the body’s immune system recognizes the new organ as an invading threat. The immune system is responsible for fighting foreign invaders that cause infection and disease. So when it detects an organ other than the ones you were born with, it can perceive the new organ as a threat and attack it.
Medications that help prevent the immune system from damaging the new organ are called immunosuppressants. After your transplant surgery you will be prescribed medications that may include:
Immunosuppressants are drugs that block the immune system from attacking the new organ; however, these medications also block the immune system from fighting real threats like viruses, bacteria and fungi. You will be prescribed medications to help prevent infection after transplant, but generally these will only need to be taken for 3-6 months until your immune system is strong enough to defend itself against infection.
Personalized Medication Sheet
After your transplant, you will be given clear instructions on when and how to take your medicines. This information will be reviewed with you while you are in the hospital and each time you come to the clinic until you are comfortable with how and when to take you medication. The dosage of the medications you are taking will be customized for you and will likely decrease or stop over time (as determined by your doctor).
A variety of other medications may be prescribed to you based on your specific health needs. These can include medication for high blood pressure, ulcer prevention, pain or high blood sugar. Some of these medications may be needed to balance out the side effects of the medications used for preventing rejection and infection.
Physicians other than your transplant doctors may prescribe medications for separate conditions. We recommend you inform your transplant team of any medications prescribed by other doctors so that we can make any adjustments to your immunosuppressant dosage if needed.
Check with your transplant team before taking any over-the-counter or new medications to avoid potential interactions with your immunosuppressant medications. This includes aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and cold medication.
Monitoring and Recording Your Numbers
Monitoring and recording certain aspects of your health after transplantation is important. You will be given tools to help keep track of blood pressure, blood sugar, temperature and all of your medications on a daily basis. It’s important that you write your results down in your log book. You will also need to come to the blood drawing room for blood work (labs) regularly, and to meet with your transplant team in clinic to evaluate how you are doing and adjust medications.
Center for Transplantation Pharmacy Team
Michael Misel, PharmD
Janice Sudaria-Kerr, PharmD
Kelly Dobbins, RN
Sabrina Fernandez, RN
After hours for liver and kidney transplant