In the spirit of heart month we celebrate the journey of heart transplant recipient, Rob Williamson. With twenty-eight years of life thanks to his transplanted heart, Rob shares how he’s witness transplant medicine evolve over the last two decades.
What has your transplant meant to you?
Quite simply, it has given me my life back. I have been able to continue my work as a pharmacist, enjoy life with my family and watch them grow. In 1993 when I received my heart transplant, I had only three grandchildren. I now have seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild! My wife and I have been able to travel, share many fantastic experiences, and create many treasured memories.
In your experience, how has transplantation changed over the years?
When first transplanted I was on a cocktail of medications. These consisted of prednisone, azathioprine, and cyclosporine. Some of the earliest available immunosuppressive drugs. By 2005 I was only taking cyclosporine, which was replaced by everolimus as part of a research study. This new anti-rejection medication proved transformational for me and produced far less side effects than I had previously experienced. Nevertheless, I still dream of a future where I no longer need daily medication to survive. My wish for all transplant recipients is simple – through research we find a way to induce tolerance so that rejection is no longer a threat to survival and potent daily immunosuppression drugs can be discontinued.