What are immunosuppressants?
When you receive an organ transplant, your body responds the way it does to any foreign object — by going on the attack. (The only exception can be when an organ is transplanted from an identical twin.) This response is known as an immune response and is your body's natural defense mechanism from potentially harmful invaders such as viruses, infections, and more. However, if the body is able to launch an immune response against your new kidney, it can cause harm and lead to rejection of the transplant.
The only way to stop your body from attacking an organ transplant is by taking immunosuppressive drugs. These drugs suppress your immune system, keeping it from damaging or destroying your transplanted kidney. There are different kinds of immunosuppressants that your doctor can prescribe to keep your immune system in check. It is likely that you will take a few different kinds of these drugs, which work in various ways to protect your transplanted kidney.
Do I have to keep taking immunosuppressants?
Yes. It is very important that you take your immunosuppressive medicines exactly as your doctor has prescribed. Missing even a single dose can increase the chance of your new kidney being rejected. Only skip doses if your doctor or another healthcare provider instructs you to do so. If you are not sure what to do, ask your doctor.
How do I remember to take all of these pills?
It may seem challenging to remember to take all of the medicines that you need. However, it is very important not to miss any doses. Here are some simple steps that you can take to help you stay on track with your medicines.
- Create a schedule. It will help to take your medicine at the same time every day. It may be helpful to pair up taking your doses with everyday activities, such as brushing your teeth or going to bed.
- Understand your drugs. When you know what each one does, you will be more likely to remember to take them.
- Get a pillbox. These handy organizers help you plan ahead and be prepared for a day or for an entire week. They make it easier to take pills on the right day and at the right time.
- Set alarm clocks, timers, or digital watches. They can help you remember to take your medicines.
- Stay aware of how much medicine you have left. It helps to call the pharmacy for early refills.
- Never stop or change the way you take a medicine without approval from your doctor.
Some immunosuppressants, such as tacrolimus, are available in once-daily formulations. Ask your doctor if a once-daily formulation could be right for you.
After getting an organ transplant, you will probably need to take medicines for the rest of your life. Always keep in mind that these medicines are necessary to help you and your kidney stay healthy.
To help transplant patients remember their medicine, doctors have created an interactive alarm application with reminders. Whenever your medications are due, Transplant Hero sends you an alert.
Learn more about Transplant Hero and download the app
What if I miss a dose of ENVARSUS XR?
Always take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. ENVARSUS XR should be taken on an empty stomach every day at the same time, preferably in the morning. If you do miss a dose, take it as soon as possible, but not more than 15 hours after the scheduled time. If it is more than 15 hours after your scheduled dose time, just wait until the usual scheduled time (the following morning) to take the next regularly scheduled dose. Do not take 2 doses at the same time or double dose. Call your doctor or transplant center for instructions if you are unsure about what to do.
Are there immunosuppressant side effects?
Yes. Unfortunately, suppressing your immune system can make you susceptible to infections. That’s why it’s important to suppress your immune system enough to protect your kidney, but not suppress it so much that your risk of infection or other side effects gets too high.
There are things you can do to help protect yourself from infections. Wash your hands often and avoid or limit being around people who are sick.
If you are having side effects, make sure you talk with your doctor as soon as possible to find out if a different regimen or medicine may be better for you.
What should I share with my doctor?
Your health care team wants you to have a good quality of life with your kidney transplant. You will meet with them on a regular basis for tests and other monitoring. Be sure to share the details of how you’re feeling and doing with your medication regimen.This immunosuppressive medicine is different. Why?