Here are two of my favourite post-transplant questions:
“So you are all good now, right?”
“When can you stop taking the medicine?”
The short answers:
“Never. Unless I want to die.”
The harsh reality is there is no “happily ever after” as a transplant recipient because transplant is not a cure. It is a treatment that in essence exchanges one deadly condition with another chronic condition. Receiving a life-saving organ in time is just the first hurdle in a lifetime of medical battles.
The condition of “transplant” can be managed with an arsenal of immune-suppression drugs to prevent rejection, but the long list of debilitating and even fatal side effects is daunting. It’s a complicated balancing act on a tight rope – too much medication and your immune system shuts down even more, further reducing your ability to fight off infections or other attacks, including cancer; but too little medication and your body can start to reject the transplanted organ. Pretty tough to pick which one is worse.
Now imagine if transplant was a cure. No toxic medications. No gauntlet of deadly side effects. Anend to the constant fear that your borrowed time is about to run out. Right now researchers around the world are trying to unlock the secrets of the immune system. It’s not fantasy. It’s possible.
All you have to do is look at how far research has brought us already. Transplants only became part of accepted medical practice in the early 1980s when experts developed drugs to suppress the immune system. Now the latest science involves keeping organs alive outside the human body.
Keep following our Transplant Research Foundation of BC blog. We will celebrate major milestones, introduce patients who will discuss the connections between the bench and bedside, and update you on some of the exciting projects your donations have funded. We also look forward to hearing your transplant stories. Tell us why research is important to you. Send us an email, post a comment, show us a photo or video of your #transplantlife.