Familiarity with the late complications of organ transplantation
All types of organ transplants are associated with late complications that show up several years after transplantation.
One of the causes of late complications of organ transplantation is the long-term use of anti-transplant drugs.
Weakening of the immune system exposes transplant patients to a variety of infections, including fungal and viral infections. It should be noted that these patients should take these drugs for the rest of their lives to maintain organ function.
The risk of rejection in the first year after transplantation is relatively high, but after that the amount of these drugs can be reduced. Of course, complete cessation of these drugs is not possible.
An important point is that the symptoms of infection in these patients are usually very mild at first, but the infection can progress quickly. Therefore, the medical team must closely monitor patients.
The patient should also inform the transplant team in the event of any abnormalities or symptoms. The transplant team should be notified immediately of any fever, cough, pain, diarrhea, headache, or urinary problems.
Another side effect of immunosuppression due to transplant rejection drugs is the development of cancers in patients, the most common of which is skin cancer. Therefore, any skin changes should be reported to the transplant team.
Another common cancer in these patients is a type of immune cell cancer called lymphoma. This type of cancer is usually accompanied by nonspecific symptoms such as fever, pain, or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or groin. Therefore, any non-specific symptoms should be reported to the transplant team physicians.
Fortunately, many of these cancers can be cured quickly.
Another side effect of late transplantation is the side effects of anti-transplant drugs. These drugs can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and high blood fats. All of these are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Due to the possibility of these complications, cardiovascular diseases, infections and cancers are common causes of death in transplant patients. That is why the transplant team must carefully and continuously evaluate patients in terms of the incidence of these diseases.
Another late complication is chronic graft rejection. Although effective anti-transplant drugs have been marketed, the prevalence of chronic transplant rejection has not yet decreased and one-third of transplant patients have this problem. Unfortunately, chronic transplant rejection has no cure other than re-transplantation.
Another late complication is the recurrence of the primary disease in the transplanted organ. This condition is relatively common in liver transplants, but is also seen in other transplants. Fortunately, in many cases, the recurrence of the primary disease in the transplanted organ can be controlled. However, if treatment is not successful, a transplant may be needed.
Despite all these problems, transplantation is still the preferred treatment for patients with organ failure. Transplantation helps to improve the patient’s quality of life and increase his life expectancy.
Dr. Reza Saidi Firoozabadi – Transplant surgeon