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Immunosuppressive Medicine Post Transplant

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

How Anti-Rejection Meds Can Weaken Your Immune System

Once you've received a kidney transplant, every day for the life of the kidney, you will have to take immunosuppressive medicine aka anti-rejection meds. These medicines prevent your newly transplanted organ from rejecting.

What is Kidney Rejection?

Kidney rejection is when your body does not accept your transplanted organ. The probability of rejection is high immediately following the transplant, but your organ can reject whenever it decides to, no matter how many years you’ve had your transplant. This is why transplanted patients must take immunosuppressive medicines for the life of the organ. And we say the life of the organ, instead of the rest of their life, because the organ can decide to quit before their life ends.

How Immune Systems Work

In a healthy body, your immune system fights off foreign invaders such as the cold, the flu, bacteria, viruses, germs, fungi, and toxins. If you ever receive a transplant, your immune system will fight the new organ because it’s not yours and therefore foreign.

Immunosuppressive medication lowers your body’s immune system, decreasing its ability to fight anything foreign. This is great news for keeping your transplant thriving but horrible news for fighting the common cold, flu, pneumonia, and more.

Immune Systems in Transplant Recipients

It’s impossible to avoid all bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins so it is inevitable that everyone gets sick. But everyone doesn’t take immune suppressors, the transplant community does. This medicine makes it more difficult for their bodies to fight to protect them. Sometimes they win the fight. Sometimes they lose. But losing for them is more detrimental because losing for them means organ rejection. And without organs, we cease to exist.

So next time you’re feeling sick, keep in mind that there’s a whole segment of the population that can’t afford to catch whatever you have, no matter how minor you believe your illness to be. To help keep them safe, it may be best to avoid contact with all immunocompromised individuals when you are feeling sick.


This page contains general medical information. Medical knowledge and practice can change rapidly. Therefore, this page should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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