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Pediatric transplant patients may skip adult appointments

Alan Flurry

Young adults who received organ transplants as children may not be regularly attending their doctor appointments after leaving their pediatric providers. Missing these appointments is associated with longer and more frequent hospitalizations and poorer medication adherence, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Georgia found a significant decline in attending adult health care appointments after a patient transfers to adult care, even if they attend their first appointment within the first year. More than one out of every four patients in the study attended on average less than one appointment per year during the three-year study period, with some attending no follow-up appointments at all.

Those patients were hospitalized more frequently and had longer hospital stays than those who stayed engaged in their adult health care appointments. They also suffered significantly higher rates of organ rejections and transplant reevaluations, as well as poorer medication adherence.

“The transition from pediatric to adult care when young adults take on more responsibility for their own care and are likely transferring facilities and health care providers is a really vulnerable period,” said Kelly Rea, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology. “Organ transplantation is a lifesaving procedure for children with end-stage organ failure. But it’s also a lifelong condition that they have to manage by adhering to medications and keeping up with their follow-up appointments.”

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Image: Getty stock photo.

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