Last year almost 30,000 people in the US received an organ transplant. If you or someone you know has received an organ transplant, you know what a long and stressful journey it is. But the journey does not stop once you receive your transplant. After a transplant, your immune system often sees the new organ as foreign and tries to destroy it. To avoid rejection, a transplant recipient may need to take special medications indefinitely.
The medications used to treat a transplant recipient may have changed, taking them as prescribed remains one of the main factors in preventing organ rejection. For transplant patients, the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful outcome can be made by medication adherence. Although transplantation removes the damaged organ and replaces it with a better functioning organ, a patient will require ongoing medication to ensure their immune system does not reject the donor organ. The body’s immune system may view the donor organ as a foreign object and attempt to attack. Medications that help to regulate that response, called immunosuppressants, adjust the body’s natural tendency to attack and ensure that the donor organ functions appropriately in the recipient patient.
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