New education program for post-transplant kidney patients

     Encourages patient behaviours promoting overall health and survival
                           of transplanted organs

MARKHAM, ON, Sept. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Patient adherence after a kidney transplant, or faithfully following a prescribed medical regimen, is vital to a transplant recipient's health and the survival of their new organ. Unfortunately, despite years of dialysis and lengthy transplant waiting list times, many individuals who finally receive a kidney transplant, experience tremendous difficulty sticking to a short list of must-do's to remain healthy and keep their new kidney working. A free, bilingual initiative, known as the Transplant Adherence Program, aims to help post-transplant kidney patients adapt to their new organ and a regimen of medications and follow-ups for life.

Adherence has long been a major concern for transplant medical professionals. An estimated 50% of Canadians on prescription medications are non-adherent, costing the health care system billions of dollars annually in preventable treatment and care. For kidney transplant patients, non-adherence to their immunosuppressive or anti-rejection medications, or skipping their regular blood tests, can be dangerous and is one of the leading causes of organ rejection after transplantation.

"There are three key messages that, as medical professionals in the renal transplant domain, we can't stress strongly enough to patients. You must be committed to taking your anti-rejection medication in the prescribed doses, every day at the same time for the rest of your life; you must recognize and act on the early signs of rejection; and you must come to all of your clinic appointments and get your blood work done," explained Dr. Jeffrey Schiff, nephrologist at the Toronto General Hospital and one of two medical experts consulted in the development of the Transplant Adherence Program. "An initiative like the Transplant Adherence Program should be warmly embraced as it can help us to reinforce this message and provide tools and resources to make adherence a bit easier for the post-transplant kidney patient."

This program provides a roadmap for those who've had a kidney transplant. It supplies a variety of tools and information to encourage the adoption of adherent behaviours and helps them effectively deal with the challenge of integrating their treatment regimen into their daily life. The resources include an introductory package containing a DVD video, an optional alarm pill box and information booklets in addition to a monthly newsletter and tools to track medication doses and record clinic appointments. There are also a number of self-evaluation exercises to encourage patient self-awareness and highlight behaviours which can lead non-adherence. All program information is also contained electronically on the program's website ( along with downloadable resources.

"I wish the great material contained in this program had been available when I could have used it 10 years ago," said Dave Smith, a kidney transplant recipient and president of the Canadian Transplant Association. "Adherence after transplantation is vital and it doesn't have to be complicated. The Transplant Adherence Program helps break down the post-transplant process and offers many helpful tips and a lot of useful information which is indispensable to recipients as they begin a new chapter in their lives and look to maintain their newfound health."

"While the Transplant Adherence Program is not meant as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, it can act as an excellent resource and complement the work of transplant teams across Canada," said Barbara Reynolds, Director of Marketing and New Product Development for Astellas Pharma Canada, Inc., sponsor of the Transplant Adherence Program. "This initiative was developed in consultation with post-transplant patients, stakeholders and nephrologists. As a result, a useful and relevant resource has been created that directly responds to the needs of both newly-transplanted kidney patients, as well as those patients that may continue to struggle with adherence years after transplantation."

Recognizing that a patient's family, spouse or partner plays a key role in helping them adjust to their new life, the Transplant Adherence Program also contains some tools for these caregivers, with newsletters and information on how to assist their loved one with adherence. Medical professionals are also invited to take advantage of the program for their patients. Patient adherence evaluation tools specifically for medical professionals are also available via the program's website.

About the Transplant Adherence Program

The Transplant Adherence Program is made possible through a grant from Astellas Pharma Canada, Inc. an industry leader in immunology. The Transplant Adherence Program is a national, bilingual resource encouraging and supporting kidney recipients' adherence to prescribed post-transplant treatment regimens. Registration and membership are free and can be completed online at or by telephone at 1-877-691-7455.

With a focus on life after transplantation, this is Astellas' second transplant education program. Its sister program, Transplant Companions is aimed at pre-transplant kidney patients and follows an interactive, information workshop model. The program is now offered at 14 Canadian transplant and care centres, seven of which have made attendance at the program's workshops compulsory for their pre-transplant patients. Visit

About kidney transplantation in Canada

Approximately 35,000 Canadians suffer from kidney disease and that number is growing at an average rate of 10 percent annually, however organ availability for transplants remains limited. Over 75% of all Canadians on transplant lists are awaiting a kidney transplant.

SOURCE Astellas Pharma Canada, Inc.

For further information: For further information: and/or to arrange an interviews with transplant medical professionals, post-transplant patients or Astellas Pharma Canada, Inc., please contact: Daniela Pizzuto, Communications MECA, 1-888-764-6322 ext. 235,

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