One risk of a kidney transplant is that your body will reject (fight) the new kidney. This can happen if your body’s immune system realizes that the kidney is from someone else. To prevent this from happening, you must take medicines to weaken your immune system. These medicines are called immunosuppressants, or anti-rejection medicines.

You should take your immunosuppressants and other medicines exactly the way your doctor tells you to. If you miss taking your medicine even one time, you could risk losing your new kidney. If you ever miss taking your medicine, call your doctor right away. Anti-rejection medicines also come with risks and side effects.

One of the biggest side effects of immunosuppressants is infection. You are more at risk for getting infections because the immunosuppressants decrease the strength of your immune system. Another common side effect of immunosuppressants is stomach upset. Talk to your doctor about your side effects, and you may be able to change the amount of the medicine that you take, or switch to a different medicine if needed.

Even though they cause side effects, immunosuppressants are very necessary drugs. They are responsible for keeping your new kidney healthy and working.

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Every day, an average of 12 people die while waiting for a kidney transplant. Last year, AKF's financial assistance to patients helped more than 1,000 people get transplants. Donate today to help us do more!