Preventing Rejection

What is done to prevent rejection?

To allow the transplanted heart to survive in your body, you will be given medications for the rest of your life to fight rejection. Each person may react differently to medications, and each transplant team has preferences for different medications. The anti-rejection medications most commonly used include:

  • cyclosporine
  • tacrolimus
  • azathioprine
  • mycophenolate mofetil
  • prednisone
  • sirolimus
  • methotrexate

New anti-rejection medications are continually being approved. Physicians tailor medication regimes to meet the needs of each individual patient.

Usually, several anti-rejection medications are given initially. The doses of these medications may change frequently, depending upon your response. Because anti-rejection medications affect the immune system, persons who receive a transplant will be at higher risk for infections. A balance must be maintained between preventing rejection and making you very susceptible to infection.

Some of the infections you will be especially susceptible to include oral yeast infection (thrush), herpes, and respiratory viruses. You should avoid contact with crowds and anyone who has an infection for the first few months after your surgery.

What are the signs of rejection?

The following are some of the most common symptoms of rejection. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • fluid collection in the lung
  • decreased oxygen level in the blood
  • shortness of breath

The symptoms of rejection may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Consult your transplant team with any concerns you have. Frequent visits to and contact with the transplant team are essential.

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