Basiliximab is an immunosuppressant medication used most commonly in kidney transplants to reduce the risk of rejecting the donor organ. It is administered by injection in a medical facility where the patient can be carefully monitored, as patients taking immunosuppressants are at risk of potentially dangerous side effects. While on the drug, patients should discuss side effects they experience with their doctors, as sometimes they can be a sign of complications.
This drug is a monoclonal antibody, indicated by the -mab ending used for designate these types of medications. It works by binding to T lymphocytes in the body, reducing the intensity of immune reactions. Typically, it takes several days for the drug to take effect, and the patient may be tested during this period to see how the body is responding to the drug.
Classically, several days before a transplant, a patient receives a dose of basiliximab. A follow-up shot is given after the transplant. This suppresses acute reactions to the donor kidney, giving the body time to adjust after the surgery. Other drugs may be needed after the second dose. One concern with basiliximab is the possibility of adverse reactions to other drugs, including herbal remedies. When preparing for transplant surgery, patients should discuss all the medications they take, including over-the-counter and alternative drugs, so a doctor can check for potentially dangerous interactions.
Common basiliximab side effects include fever, back pain, tremors, sore throat, and dizziness. Many patients experience nausea while on this medication and can start to produce more body hair. More serious side effects include vision changes, chest pain, difficulty urinating, rash, and tingling or numbness. Patients who notice these symptoms should contact a doctor immediately for treatment. It is also important to be alert to signs of infection like fever, redness, and swelling, as catching infections early is important while on this drug.
Some patients may have an allergic reaction to basiliximab. People should make sure their doctors are aware of any history of allergies, and if symptoms like difficulty breathing or hives are experienced, a patient may be developing an allergy. The medication should not be given again, and the patient may require treatment to address issues like shortness of breath. The basiliximab allergy should also be noted on the patient's chart so people know not to use the medication on the patient in the future. There are alternative drugs available for the prevention of transplant rejection in patients with a basiliximab allergy.