New Research: Could Organ Recipients Forgo Anti-Rejection Medication?

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Kidney transplant recipients currently must take immune-suppressing medications to prevent organ rejection, which can make them vulnerable to infections and disease. In this podcast, Dr. Joseph Leventhal explains ongoing clinical trials at Northwestern that focus on eliminating the need for anti-rejection medication by convincing the patient’s immune system to recognize the new organ as a native part of the body. One clinical trial participant, Lindsay Porter, now post-transplant and doing well, shares her story about how she benefited from this ground-breaking research.

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, its medical staff or Patient Power.   Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor.  That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.


Well, imagine, there are people who need organ transplants, and kidney transplants are not at all uncommon, and people who have diabetes over many years may need them.  People who have a genetic condition called polycystic kidney disease, and there are other conditions, they may need them too.  Well, typically you’re getting a donation from someone who is pretty well matched, as matched as well as they can, but you need to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of your life.  And there can be side effects, there often are, and even an effect on the donated organ where you may need a transplant sometime down the road.  Wouldn’t it be great if there could be a procedure where those medications might be taken for just a short time or maybe it could be worked out not at all, but certainly for a short time, and then you go on with your life and you don’t have to swallow that handful of pills and worry about those side effects and the organ being rejected. 

Well, that has been pioneered now with a collaboration of two universities, Northwestern Memorial Hospital helping lead that, and we’re going to talk about that today.  Let’s start with someone who has benefitted.  That’s 47-year-old Lindsey Porter, mother of five-year-old CJ, who is in the drama and theater field in Chicago.  Lindsey, welcome to the program.  Back in the summer of 2010 you participated in a clinical trial and so today now, many, many months later, you really don’t take any anti-rejection medicines, do you? 

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