At a recent luncheon on the Stanford medical school's campus, a group of kidney-transplant recipients celebrated their freedom from a lifetime regimen of immune-suppressing drugs, thanks to a new protocol developed by immunologist Sam Strober, MD.
I was there, too, and a few of those patients shared with me their experiences, as reported here today. The man shown in the photo with his adorable and very happy (I can attest to that) 2-year-old daughter is Daniel Bitner, one of the success stories.
In the three-and-a-half years since his kidney transplant, Bitner has been able to go without anti-rejection medications — which cost between $12,000 and $15,000 a year; can come with side effects such as high blood pressure, diabetes and higher risk of cancer and infection; and sometimes just don't work. As I reported last October, the new protocol carries a total expense estimated to range from $20,000 and $40,000, so it has the potential to pay for itself within a few years. And it requires no additional hospital time.
The latest and most-detailed description of the since-expanded trial is entitled "Tolerance and Withdrawal of Immunosuppresive Drugs in Patients Given Kidney and Hematopoietic Cell Transplants," is scheduled for publication in the American Journal of Transplantation this week.
Previously: Might kidney-transplant recipients be able to toss their pills?
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben