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Organ Transplant

Background

An organ transplant is a surgical procedure to replace an unhealthy organ with a healthy one. The person who gives the organ is known as the donor, and the person who gets the organ is the recipient. Heart, kidney, liver and lung are the most common organ transplants.

What is Rejection?

Before a transplant, your doctor and transplant team will run tests to make sure the organ you are about to receive is the best possible match for the organ it is replacing. Your immune system may still think that the new organ is strange and may attack it. When this happens, it’s called rejection.

To help prevent organ rejection, your doctor will prescribe medications called immunosuppressants. These medications prevent rejection by slowing down or “suppressing” your immune system. You’ll have to take these medications long term.

Your doctor may prescribe a generic medication. Most generic medications work the same in all patients. However, when you have an organ transplant there can be very little “wiggle room” to achieve the exact dosage. You may respond differently to the same generic medication produced by a different manufacturer. These types of medications are called narrow therapeutic index (NTI) medications.

Because it is very easy to have too much or too little of an NTI medication in your system, it is important that you and your doctor or care team know when there are any medication changes. Your doctor or care team may want to monitor your blood levels to make sure the new medication is working for you.

Resources