DALLAS — For the very first time in the U.S., heart transplant recipients on a pediatric level in Dallas are using a digital pill to help keep track of their daily medications that prevent their bodies from rejecting their new ticker.
The pill is called Proteus. It’s essentially a small microchip made of silicon, magnesium, and copper. It’s so tiny that once ingested, it just passes through the body.
Right now, Children’s Medical Center in Dallas is placing Proteus in the medications of heart transplant recipients.
The Proteus chip is encapsulated in the medications already, and when a patient swallows them, it transmits a signal to a digital adhesive patch that they’re wearing on their side.
That patch then transmits information to an app on the patient’s phone that alerts their family and doctors that they’ve taken a daily dose.
Transplant recipients can often times take up to 30 pills a day that numbs their immune system, keeping it from rejecting the new organ they’ve received.
Other pills that are similar in nature have already been used before with liver and kidney transplant recipients, but this is the first time in the country it’s being used with heart transplant patients on a pediatric level according to Children’s Health.
For 16-year-old Cypress Jackson, Proteus keeps her accountable. When she was 11-years-old, she got a new heart because hers was becoming too enlarged.
Jackson, who goes to John Horn High School in Mesquite, takes an estimated 10 pills, three times a day to keep her body from rejecting her heart.
“It’s helpful because sometimes I get sidetracked and do stuff, and then I get alerted to take my pills—and I have to stop everything,” Jackson said.
“It really just becomes like clockwork.”
Nurse Practitioner Kristin Anton told WFAA that Proteus is advantageous in the pediatric field, adding that the one reason transplant patients lose their organs is because of non-compliance with medications. “This is actually giving us a chance to be a step ahead of them,” Anton said. “We know if they’ve taken the right dose of medication or if they haven’t taken enough.”
The adhesive patch that patients wear can also track their heart rate, steps, activity, and resting heart rate.