A new procedure in kidney transplantation being administered at a city hospital for the past one year has helped patients avoid the long-term side-effects of drugs, which they have to consume life-long to prevent rejection of kidney.

Explaining the procedure, Vivek Pathak, Head, Department of Nephrology, Kovai Medical Center and Hospital (KMCH), says that kidney transplant, either from family donors with matching blood groups or cadaveric donors, has become widely accepted as an effective treatment for patients suffering from end stage kidney failure. The alternative is life-long dialysis, which can wreck a person’s professional life as it has to be done thrice a week and also incurs considerable cost as it is life-long.

Known as ABO compatible transplants, the problem with this approach is nearly 30 per cent of family donors are rejected as blood groups do not match, forcing patients to continue dialysis indefinitely.

Advances in medical field resulted in the implementation of ABO incompatible transplants, in which kidneys are transplanted even when blood groups do not match. This resulted in family members, no matter what their blood group was, donating kidney to a relative.

However, even such advanced procedures have a flipside as all patients with transplants must continue to take life long medicines including steroids. Steroids has several side effects on patients including minor deformities in the face due to fat deposition, serious infections, onset of diabetes requiring insulin, bone fractures and heart problems besides cataract.

Patients under than 16 years, who undergo transplants, have to take steroids and suffer from stunted growth.

To combat this, he says a new procedure, steroid free protocol in ABO compatible transplants – in which the use of steroids is halted after five days after the transplants was slowly adopted.

The procedure was adopted at the KMCH in 2005, where steroid free protocol was administered for kidney transplants where blood groups match.

Dr. Vivek Pathak, who has performed 700 such operations in last eight years at KMCH, says the steroid-free protocol was extended last year to the ABO-Incompatible transplants. “Eight patients have already been administered this procedure. Another five patients within the next 15 days will also been getting this procedure done. In June, we complete one year of this new protocol with 13 patients. This procedure will help increase the number of transplants due to better utilisation of the family better donor. ,” added Dr. Vivek Pathak.

“Steroid-free transplants for both ABO compatible and ABO incompatible patients are a rarity in India. Children are among the major beneficiaries of this procedure,” he states.