How Do Organ Transplants Save Lives?
Organ transplantation is a medical procedure in which an organ is removed from one body and placed in the body of a recipient, to replace a damaged or missing organ.
Transplantation raises a number of bioethical issues, including the definition of death, when and how consent should be given for an organ to be transplanted, and payment for organs for transplantation.
Transplantation medicine is one of the most challenging and complex areas of modern medicine.
Some of the key areas for medical management are the problems of transplant rejection, during which the body has an immune response to the transplanted organ, possibly leading to transplant failure and the need to immediately remove the organ from the recipient.
Transplantable organs and tissues
* Lung (deceased-donor and living-related lung transplantation)
* Heart/Lung (deceased-donor and domino transplant)
* Kidney (deceased-donor and living-donor)
* Liver (deceased-donor and living-donor)
* Pancreas (deceased-donor only)
* Intestine (deceased-donor and living-donor)
* Stomach (deceased-donor only)
* Testis (deceased-donor and living-donor)
* Penis (deceased-donor only)
Tissues, cells, and fluids
* Hand (deceased-donor only)
* Cornea (deceased-donor only)
* Skin, including the face, replant (autograft) and face transplant (extremely rare)
* Islets of Langerhans (pancreas islet cells) (deceased-donor and living-donor)
* Bone marrow/Adult stem cell (living-donor and autograft)
* Blood transfusion/Blood Parts Transfusion (living-donor and autograft)
* Blood Vessels (autograft and deceased-donor)
* Heart Valve (deceased-donor, living-donor and xenograft [porcine/bovine])
* Bone (deceased-donor and living-donor)
Types of donor
Organ donors may be living or may have died of brain death or circulatory death. Most deceased donors are those who have been pronounced brain dead.
In living donors, the donor remains alive and donates a renewable tissue, cell, or fluid (e.g., blood, skin), or donates an organ or part of an organ in which the remaining organ can regenerate or take on the workload of the rest of the organ (primarily single kidney donation, partial donation of liver, lung lobe, small bowel).
Deceased donors are people who have been declared brain-dead and whose organs are kept viable by ventilators or other mechanical mechanisms until they can be excised for transplantation.
Organ transplantation is a major surgery that carries potential risks and drawbacks, such as the chance of organ rejection.
Organ transplants include kidney, pancreas, liver, heart, lung, and intestine.
You Need an Organ Transplant: What's Next?
Once your doctor gives you the news, he or she will typically refer you to an organ transplant center.
It is important to educate yourself about your disease as much as you can and gather as much information as possible on organ transplants, so that you are an informed patient.
Getting on the Organ Transplant Waiting List
To get on the national transplant waiting list, UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) tells potential recipients, contact the transplant hospital you and your doctor have decided on and ask for an appointment.
You will be evaluated by the organ transplant team, which will take into account your medical history, current health status, and other variables to see if you are indeed a good candidate for the transplant.
Organ Transplant Waiting Times, Policies, Procedures
The average wait time for an organ transplant varies by organ, age, blood type, and other factors. For instance, waiting times can reach seven to 10 years for candidates waiting for deceased kidney organ donors.
What Are Your Organ Donor Options?
You also may have a choice about whether the organ donor is deceased or living.
Those who need a transplant often ask if they can buy an organ. The answer is simple: No. In the United States, it is a felony to buy an organ.
Gathering Information on Organ Transplants
Depending on the organ being transplanted, you can get other help from a variety of organizations. UNOS has on its site an exhaustive list, from national organizations such as the American Heart Association, America Kidney Foundation, and American Liver Foundation.
There's a wide array of information on organ transplants available to you. You can be an integral part of your care by tapping into these resources.