Why do I need to suppress my immune system?

In order for your donor's cells to establish themselves in your body, the cells involved with recognizing "foreign" cells must be suppressed. You will be on several different immunosuppressant medicines at the same time because each medicine suppresses your immune system in a different way. They are used to prevent or control graft versus host disease (GvHD).

The Transplant Team will monitor the ratio of donor and recipient DNA on a routine basis through a blood test. Once your donor's cells are fully matured, your transplant doctor will determine the best taper schedule for you. You might be taking none, one, or several immunosuppressant medicines at different times after transplant. You might need to be taking immunosuppressant medicines for an indefinite length of time to control GvHD. While you are on any suppressive medicine, you are at risk for life-threatening infections. Your nurse coordinator will review precautions with you to prevent infection. You must always watch for signs of infection, and notify The Transplant Team immediately at the first sign.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Call your healthcare provider RIGHT AWAY if you have any of these warning signs of infection:

  • Fever of 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C)
  • Sweats or chills
  • Skin rash
  • Pain, tenderness, or swelling
  • Wound or cut that won't heal
  • Red, warm, or draining sore
  • Sore throat, scratchy throat, or pain when swallowing
  • Sinus drainage, nasal congestion, headaches, or tenderness along the upper cheekbones
  • Persistent dry or moist cough that lasts more than 2 days
  • White patches in your mouth or on your tongue
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Flu-like symptoms (chills, aches, headache, or fatigue) or generally feeling "lousy"
  • Trouble urinating: pain or burning, constant urge, or frequent urination
  • Bloody, cloudy, or foul-smelling urine or black, tarry stools

Also, contact your healthcare provider if you have any other symptoms that cause concern or if you have any questions.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/21/2014.

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