Transplant rejection is prevented and treated with the use of immunosuppressive medication. These drugs suppress the immune system’s response to foreign tissue. It is critically important that you adhere to medication guidelines.

Most patients are on a combination of drugs, called “triple therapy,” to prevent rejection.

The most common combination of drugs includes:

  • Cyclosporine or Tacrolimus
  • Cellcept
  • Prednisone

Each of these drugs has a different mechanism of action for preventing rejection. By utilizing three drugs, the dosages of each are kept relatively low, thereby reducing the side effects.

The combination of Cyclosporine or Tacrolimus, Cellcept and Prednisone is called maintenance therapy. The dosages of maintenance therapy are higher initially and slowly tapered to baseline levels during the first year of transplant. These drugs must be taken indefinitely.

When rejection is detected, additionally immunosuppressive therapy may be initiated. The type of treatment depends upon the severity of rejection, determined by the biopsy score and the signs and symptoms of rejection. The treatment can vary from an increase in the dose of Prednisone, the use of IV steroids, or the IV administration of additional immunosuppressant medications.

Rejection may seem frightening to transplant patients, but deaths from rejection are rare. It is important to remember that rejection does not represent “failure” of your transplant surgery, nor does it represent “failure” of your immunosuppressant medications.

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