Continued from previous page.

Live transplant pharmacists, Ms Yee Mei Ling, Dr Sia Wan Jin and Ms Song Jielin and kidney transplant pharmacists Dr Lee Puay Hoon, Dr Deepika Mallya, Ms Khoo Sher Ri and Ms Petrina Fan from the Department of Pharmacy, Singapore General Hospital, a member of the SingHealth group, answer commonly-asked questions about immunosuppressive medications for kidney and liver transplants.

  1. What happens if I stop taking my immunosuppressive medications?
  2. If you stop taking your immunosuppressive medications, your own immune system will attack the transplanted organ.

    This may result in rejection of the transplanted organ and subsequent organ failure. In serious cases, there may be a need to return to dialysis and increase you morbidity and risk of death.

  3. Can I take health supplements, over-the-counter medications and/or traditional medications with the immunosuppressive medications on my own?
  4. Avoid taking any other medications (including traditional medications) or health supplements on your own. Immunosuppressive medications can interact with many other medications and health supplements. Some of these medications and health supplements can cause the blood level of the immunosuppressive medications to vary significantly, resulting in organ rejection or severe side effects.

    Consult your transplant specialist, pharmacist or transplant coordinator prior to consuming any new medications or supplements.

  5. How should I keep my immunosuppressive medications at home?
  6. Store your medications away from the reach of children and pets. Keep the medications in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight.

  7. I am planning to start a family. Are the immunosuppressive medications safe for my baby and I?
  8. Some of the immunosuppressive medications may cause harm to the developing baby, and may need to be changed to safer alternatives.

    Female patients planning to get pregnant or have discovered that they are pregnant must inform the transplant specialist or transplant coordinator as soon as possible, to ensure the medications are safe for both mother and baby.

  9. Is there any treatment for rejection of the transplanted organ?
  10. There are different types of medications available to treat rejection of the transplanted organ. A short course of high-dose immunosuppressive medication, usually a corticosteroid, will be given to treat an episode of rejection.

General information about antibiotic, anti-fungal and anti-viral medications

Immunosuppressive medications weaken the immune system and reduce its ability to detect and fight bacterial, fungal and viral infections.

It is therefore important to take specific antibiotics, anti-fungal and anti-viral medications to prevent these infections.

Do note that the duration of these anti-infection medications may vary from patient to patient. Always consult your transplant specialist and pharmacists for clarification on dosage instructions.

Just Ask! Your Pharmacist 

Lastly, you can approach your pharmacist who can help you to:

  1. Understand your medications and how they work
  2. Learn about the side effects and interactions with other medications or food
  3. Manage your medication schedule
Ref: O17