About 10,000 life-saving kidney transplants are performed each year in the United States. The critical period comes after surgeons do their job. A drug helps patients live normal lives.
A year after she was married, Rita’s kidney failed. A transplant was her only hope. Fear still followed her, even after she had the surgery. Doctors say 50-percent of transplant patients will reject a new kidney.
Rita, Transplant Patient:
“Rejection…that’s a scary word when you hear transplant.”
It’s three years since the transplant. Rita celebrated her fourth wedding anniversary. Her doctors say she’s healthy because of a new anti-rejection drug called Cellcept.
“Twenty out of one hundred patients getting a transplant are spared that early rejection insult with the new drug Cellcept.”
The drug stops the growth of certain white blood cells that attack the kidney. Rita and about 500 other kidney transplant patients were part of a initial study to see how well it works.
It is able to significantly decrease rejection rates, without affecting the patient’s lifestyle. It’s an easy drug to take. There are very few side-effects.
“It is a gift of life. That’s what this pill does. It helps somebody exist and go on and live a real life, not a sick life.”
Doctors say the drug may prevent kidney rejections that occur up to 15 years after transplantation. The FDA approved Cellcept. Researchers say the drug’s success with kidney transplants makes it likely it will be used with other organs in the future.