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Texting pill box could help young transplant patients – 13WMAZ

Jack Frank shares a love of basketball with his uncle and something more — a kidney.

“Yep, he’s taking care of part of my body,” said William Richardson.

A priceless gift, a huge responsibility. Frank vows to take good care of it.

“With a kidney as healthy as his and as great as his, of course I want to keep it top notch,” he said.

But according to Dr. Jodi Smith at Seattle Children’s Hospital, the odds are against someone Frank’s age.

“The kids who have the shortest lifespan of the kidney transplant are teenagers and there’s no medical reason for that, there’s no immunological reason for that. Really the only reason is that they have a challenge taking their immunosuppressant medications,” Dr. Smith said.

Kidney transplant patients need to take between 10 to 20 medications a day at very specific intervals.

Frank admits that “the hardest thing about taking the meds was probably the timing.”

So, naturally, his mother worries.

“It’s hard for anybody of any age to remember to take medication every 12 hours always without fail,” said Ann Richardson.

A special pill box that texts reminders could be the answer.

“It meets teenagers where they are. They are into texting and what we do is we give them a pill box,” said Dr. Smith.

Frank said having the box made a big difference.

“The box was great. I think one of the cool things about the box was that it was able to remind me through a text message or the box would light up,” said Frank.

There’s no ignoring it. If there’s no response, a human steps in.

“The coach can text whoever and say what’s up. How come you’re not taking you meds, or how can I help or anything like that so it’s sort of real time intervention,” said Dr. Smith,

Frank no longer has the box. His part in the study has ended, but the device helped him get into good habits and helped his family create a game plan of their own.

“Right now my parents do text me and do remind me to take my meds.”

Which means less worry for them and more freedom for him.

Seattle Children’s is one of six centers across the country participating in the Teen Adherence in Kidney Transplant Effectiveness of Intervention Trial (TAKE-IT) which is sponsored by National Institutes of Health.

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