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What is a solid organ transplant?

The function of a kidney plays a vital role in filtering waste from the body as well as maintaining homeostasis – sustaining a stable internal environment for your body.

There is an estimated 1.2 million people around the world who are suffering from end-stage renal disease (ESRD). ESRD is the result of many other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and polycystic kidney disease. Treatments for ESRD include hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and renal transplantation. ESRD patients are placed on dialysis since their failing kidneys can no longer filter waste out of the body. Patients register themselves on a transplant list and recipients of new kidneys can extend their lives 10-15 years longer compared to those staying on dialysis. As of mid 2008, the number of patients on the kidney transplant waiting list was well over 80.000 at the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

What to expect?

As with many organ transplants, your body will recognize the new organ as a foreign object and your body will try to fend off the “foreign object.” When this occurs, patients, especially kidney transplant patients, have a very high rejection rate – ultimately destroying the new implant. One out of three kidney failure patients will not be eligible even if they are perfectly matched to a donor due to their highly sensitized immune system.

To stop the body from rejecting the transplant, patients are administered IVIG. This effectively helps “desensitize” the body’s immune system against the new “foreign object.” It does so by adding helpful antibodies to block your own system’s antibodies from destroying the new organ. IVIG will also boost the immune system and protect the patient against infections; whereas other therapies, which include immunosuppressants, will weaken one’s immune system and thus making them more prone to infections. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Hospital has done extensive research on IVIG and its critical role in facilitating successful transplants.