Calcineurin inhibitors, such as
tacrolimus and cyclosporine. These block the message that causes rejection. You
probably will always need to take calcineurin inhibitors, because they are an
important part of your lifelong care after a transplant. These medicines
are helpful, but they also have potentially serious side effects such as high blood
pressure, too much potassium in the blood (hyperkalemia), and kidney problems.
These medicines can also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, high cholesterol,
seizures. And they can put you at increased risk for infection and cancer. There is a great deal of research on the development of
newer calcineurin inhibitors with fewer side effects. Ask your doctor for more
information if you are having any of these side effects.
Antiproliferative agents, such as mycophenolate mofetil,
azathioprine, and sirolimus. Antiproliferative agents prevent the immune cells
from multiplying. These antirejection medicines are also an important part of
your lifelong care after a transplant. They prevent your immune system from
attacking and destroying the donor organ. Common side effects can include
nausea, anemia, reduced number of white blood cells (leukopenia), high
triglycerides, and intestinal upset. Antiproliferative agents also increase
your risk of getting an opportunistic infection, cancer, and other
Monoclonal antibodies, such as daclizumab, basiliximab, and rituximab. These antibodies block the growth of immune cells that are responsible for rejection. They are used early after transplantation with
calcineurin inhibitors and antiproliferative agents.
Polyclonal antibodies, such as antithymocyte globulin-equine
and antithymocyte globulin-rabbit. Polyclonal antibodies temporarily deplete
the body's immune cells. These medicines are used in the hours and days
immediately after your organ transplant to prevent your body from rejecting the
donor organ. They may also be used again if your body starts to reject the
donor organ. They are often used to reduce early use of calcineurin inhibitors,
which can have serious side effects. Side effects of polyclonal antibodies
include fever, itching, joint pain, and decreased number of white blood cells
(leukopenia). Severe side effects may include an increased risk for cancer and
opportunistic infections, serum sickness (a bad reaction to your own tissues),
and a condition that prevents your body from making antibodies that fight
You may have to take other medicines to prevent infection or to control other health problems you have (like high blood pressure).
What kind of physical issues will I face after transplant?
Almost immediately after a transplant, many people
report feeling better than they have in years. The physical limitations you
have will depend on the type of transplant you had, other conditions you may
have, and whether your body rejects the donor organ. You will likely not face
major physical limitations after you have healed from your transplant.
The daily antirejection medicines can cause some bothersome and sometimes
serious side effects in some people.
High blood pressure and
high cholesterol are common problems after a
transplant, although they can be treated with other medicines. You
may be at increased risk for getting certain types of cancer and conditions
such as diabetes. You will be at higher risk for infections, especially
opportunistic infections, because your antirejection medicines will weaken your
immune system. Be sure to keep your regular appointments with your
doctor or the transplant center so you can be monitored for these
What kind of emotional issues will I face?
an organ transplant may cause many emotional issues both for you and those who
care about you. When your organ comes from a deceased donor, you may sometimes
think about that and what it meant to the donor's family. It is common to have
depression after an organ transplant, although not
everyone does. If you think you may be depressed, it is important to tell your
transplant coordinator, doctor, or someone who cares about you. The earlier
depression is treated, the more quickly you will recover and the better you