Your body's immune system protects you from foreign substances such as bacteria, fungus and viruses that can cause infection.
Unfortunately, your immune system identifies your newly-transplanted lung(s) as a foreign substance and goes to work fighting off this intruder.
When your body's immune system attempts an attack, it is called rejection. Almost everyone develops rejection at some time. You will take immunosuppressive medications to fool your body and to prevent your immune system from attacking and damaging your new lung(s).
Rejection usually occurs in the first 6 months after transplantation, but it can occur at any point, especially if you do not take your medications correctly. This is one of the reasons we schedule you for frequent visits to the post-transplant clinic.
Learn the signs and symptoms of rejection. If you experience any of the following signs and symptoms of rejection, report them to your transplant team immediately:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Decrease of 10% in FEV1 or FCV readings over 2 days
A bronchoscopy with lung biopsy is used to confirm rejection and/or an infection. Click here to read more about bronchoscopy.
Your transplant team has many medications available to treat rejection. Treatment is usually given intravenously and includes higher doses of steroids or other medication. Depending on your situation, you may receive your treatment at home or in the hospital.