Thanks to medical advancements in organ transplants, many children who suffer from organ failure go on to enjoy a significantly improved quality of life. But they, and their families, face countless challenges before making a full recovery.
One of the top priorities after an organ transplant is preventing organ ‘rejection’. Rejection can be a terrifying thought, but rejection doesn’t mean that the organ transplant recipient is in immediate danger of losing their transplanted organ. Rejection happens when the organ recipient’s immune system recognizes the donated organ as a foreign body and attempts to eliminate it by producing antibodies which is the immune systems response usually triggered to fight bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, some degree of rejection can occur with every transplant, but significant rejection depends on individual recipients and how their bodies respond.
To prevent organ rejection, immunosuppressants, or anti-rejection medications, are prescribed. Immunosuppressants help prevent the body’s natural defence, the immune system, from attacking the donated organ. Medications like Methylprednisolone, Atgam, Thymoglobulin, OKT2, Basiliximab and Daclizumab are prescribed in intensified doses that are usually taken for 30 days after the transplant. Following this, long term medications include Prednisone, Cyclosporine, Tacrolimus, Mycophenolate Mofetil, Azathioprine and Rapamycin. Anti-rejection immunosuppression medications like Methylprednisolone, Atgam, OKT3, Thymoglobulin, Basiliximab or Daclizumab are given for the purpose of treating an acute rejection episode during the post-transplant period or 30 days after the diagnosis of acute rejection.
Since organ rejection is a constant threat, these immunosuppressants are taken for the lifetime of the organ transplant recipient. Acute rejection is common within the first year after a transplant but can also occur years later. Despite immune suppression therapy, acute rejection can occur and often lead to chronic rejection. Chronic rejection is classified by the gradual loss of organ function in the months and years after a transplant.
Even in the best case scenario of the organ not being rejected, life becomes more challenging for those who have had organ transplants. Maintaining doctor’s appointments, taking, understanding, and maintaining medications, dealing with side effects and interactions that can occur, as well as undergoing the recommended lab tests are all vital to the health of an organ transplant recipient. These families live in fear, never knowing when they’ll be faced with another medical emergency.
Many Children’s Organ Transplant families are forced to take time off work to be with their child through their transplant journey and the doctors appointments that follow. Time off work means a certain loss of income for families, with an added cost of transportation – fuel, insurance, public transport, cabs etc. For families outside of the lower mainland there is also the additional cost of lodging. Thanks to the Children’s Organ Transplant Society and your donation we help to alleviate the stress of these emotional and financial hardships.
In addition to ill-health and financial strain, COTS families struggle with the simple things that are often taken for granted. Spending quality time together as a family becomes impossible when parents are forced to give all of their time and energy to their child who is sick. This is felt especially over the holiday season when families should be enjoying their special time together.
Your donation can help to alleviate the financial stress and emotional burden of COTS families. You can bring joy and fulfilment to those who need it most. Help us spread the work of our ‘Season of Giving’. Please share this post with your family and friends.