Improving Outcomes for Transplant Patients
One in three Australians are at risk of being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in their lifetime. Researchers you support are working tirelessly to ensure people with this growing chronic condition have the best care and latest treatments available to them for their condition.
One of these researchers is Dr Rob Carroll, Transplant Nephrologist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, who is involved in both research and clinical support for patients with a kidney condition.
Australia’s First Young Adult Clinic
Looking back, Dr Carroll and the team found that a third of their transplant kidneys were lost between the ages of 18 and 26, due to patients not taking their antirejection drugs properly. Wanting to ensure patients at this age had the best support available to them, four years ago Dr Carroll established Australia’s first Young Adult Clinic.
“The clinic is available to people within this age group who may have had a kidney transplant, or have inflammatory problems with their kidneys,” Dr Carroll said.
“The clinic is held every two months, with a youth worker who facilitates activities with those who attend. When people come to this clinic they realise they’re not alone, and there are other people of a similar age, going through the same thing.
“Since its establishment four years ago, out of the people who attend the clinic, not one has lost their kidney to non-compliance with their antirejection medication.”
With this clinic having life-changing effects on young patients, Dr Carroll is also busy behind the scenes researching ways of improving outcomes and quality of life for all transplant patients.
“The other thing we are involved in is new research looking at inflammatory markers in people’s urine, and whether it could be used to predict if someone’s body will reject a new kidney,” Dr Carroll said.
“There is good data to suggest that if you look at someone’s urine and they have these particular inflammatory markers, their new kidney won’t last as long as people who have no inflammation in their urine.”
Currently clinicians wait for a blood test to change to determine if a patient’s new kidney will inevitably be rejected, but this ground-breaking research could allow specialists to be more pre-emptive and predict the likelihood of rejection.
“This research is a game changer. We should be able to say to a patient your kidney is inflamed so we’re going to treat you with a specific protocol because we know on average your kidney will do better than if we just wait for your creatinine to rise or your kidney function to get worse.”
The second aspect of Dr Carroll’s research is trialling an immunotherapy treatment for incurable cancer after have a kidney transplant.
“Having kidney failure increases a patient’s risk of developing malignancy, but having immunosuppressant on top of that makes you at five times more risk of getting cancer compared to the general population. In general these malignancies are a lot more aggressive.
“This immunotherapy has revolutionised treatment for melanoma in the general population and we want to see if it is effective in patients with a kidney transplant and cancer,” Dr Carroll said.
“Now any transplant patient who develops an incurable malignancy, who can’t have surgery or tolerate chemotherapy, they have the choice to be exposed to this new treatment.”
This research is made possible thanks to you, and with your continued support Dr Carroll is confident the future for transplant patients could be a lot brighter.
“Ideally we want to get to the point where we can utilise new technologies to personalise a transplant patient’s treatment, to make sure we’re keeping their kidney happy but also reducing complications like infection or malignancy.”