Patients facing kidney transplant surgery may have a new option to consider from anti-suppressant drug therapy. According to a new report by ABC News, Dr. David Sachs of Massachusetts General Hospital developed a protocol to deal with organ rejection without the usual anti-suppressant drugs- chemotherapy and kidney transplant.
Dr. Sachs explains that the use of chemotherapy fools the immune system, causing it to recognize the new organ as its own. Chemotherapy kills cancer cells that are in their reproducing stage. When an organ is transplanted it is attacked by the immune cells. Chemotherapy attacks the immune cells that are in a stage of reproduction.
Five days prior to transplant surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are used. Dr. Sachs also transplants bone marrow at the same time as the kidney. Patients remain in isolation for several weeks after transplant surgery in order to reduce the risk of infections. The use of the chemotherapy eliminates any need for future anti-rejection drugs. Chemotherapy treatment can save a patient as much as $12,000 per year, according to the article.
The Boston Globe interviewed Dr. Sachs in 2008 to report how the chemotherapy and kidney transplant procedure was progressing since its inception in 2006. Out of five patients, four had successful transplants without any rejection. The patient that experienced rejection of the new organ received a new drug. He later obtained another transplant that proved successful.