We live in the century where health depends on life-support systems to improve the quality of life, and are on a constant look-out for more of these systems. Medical science and technology have joined hands to bring a revolutionary change as an effort to make life better and easier. Organ transplantation is one such advancement by the medical system and remarkable success in helping people with chronic disorders combat life-threatening ailments.
To begin with, the first aspect of organ transplantation involves whether it is by a deceased donor or a living donor. A living donor, however, is restricted to donating up to eight organs that they can live without, especially if they are in a pair.
Now the big question is, which organs can be transplanted, and what is the post-surgical life like? To answer this, let’s quickly scroll through what organ transplant is, the various types of organ transplants available, and how it affects the donor and the recipient both, post the transplant.
Organ Transplantation: An Overview
Organ transplantation is the surgical removal of a healthy organ from the donor’s body, and transplanting it into a person’s body that has been suffering from organ failure or has suffered a trauma causing injury to any organ leading to a non-functional stage.
The most common type of single organ transplant is a kidney transplant, and the least common is the intestinal transplant.
Organ transplantations are very critical, and hence, the success depends on factors like matching the blood type, size of the organ, how long a patient has been waiting, how severe is their condition, and the geographical distance between the donor and the recipient.
Types Of Organ Transplants
Heart transplant: A heart transplant is done for people suffering from heart and valve diseases. A heart transplant is quite a successful life-saving surgery with a survival rate of over 70%. Although heart transplants are a success, only a very small population of people get it done due to various reasons. However, reports have stated that people with a transplanted heart have not only had a successful surgery and survival rate but also have a better quality of life.
Lung transplantation: Lungs filter carbon dioxide and oxygenate the blood. This is a natural process and the blood is circulated throughout the body. People with chronic health conditions like cystic fibrosis or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), whose lungs are weak and cannot provide enough oxygen to the body are potential candidates for lung transplantation. Many people have a misconception that smoking can prevent lung donation. However, the fact is that there are some tests that can check the functioning of the lungs and determine if they are suitable for donation.
Liver transplantation: The liver is a complex organ that carries out a number of functions in the body. The main function of the liver is to maintain nutrition balance in the body. It is responsible for the breakdown of vitamins, glucose, proteins, and fats and provides equal nourishment to the entire body. It also plays a vital role in eliminating waste from the body and regulates blood clotting. Liver transplants are common, as the liver is a unique organ that can regrow even after a part of it is donated. The liver can be reduced in size and transplanted, and it grows to the required size. It can also be divided and transplanted into two recipients. People with chronic ailments such as cirrhosis, liver failure, Hepatitis B or C, and congenital liver defects such as Biliary Atresia may require a liver transplant.
Kidney transplantation: Kidneys are the filtering organs of the body. Their main function is to filter the waste from the blood and flush out all that is not required for the body. When the kidneys become weak and are unable to filter, the waste in the blood starts to build up, causing damage to the other organs. In such cases, the patient is put on dialysis which promotes the function of filtering the waste from the body. However, it is difficult for one to be on dialysis for a long time. This leads to the need for a kidney transplant. A kidney transplant can be done singularly or both can be transplanted, based on the patient’s condition and need. A kidney recipient can enjoy a healthy life for many years.
Corneal transplantation: A cornea transplant also known as keratoplasty is a procedure that involves replacement of the cornea with donated corneal tissue. A cornea transplant is done to restore lost vision.
Although most cornea transplantations are successful there can be slight chances of complications, such as the donor cornea being rejected. In some rare cases, the recipient’s body may reject the donor cornea if the recipient’s immune system mistakenly attacks the transplanted cornea.
Pancreatic transplantation: The Pancreas is responsible for the smooth functioning of the digestive and endocrine systems. Transplanted pancreas restores normal insulin production in the body. It is usually done alongside a kidney transplant in case the patient has a risk of kidney failure.
Trachea transplantation: Trachea is the cartilage tissue, also known as the windpipe which is located in the throat connecting the larynx and pharynx to the lungs. Any disease that causes hardening and narrowing of the trachea might lead to the need for a trachea transplant.
Skin transplantation: Skin transplantation is a surgical procedure usually done for those who have suffered major trauma such as motor crashes or fire accidents/acid attacks. Most cases involve skin from the patient’s thigh region.
Intestinal transplantation: Intestinal failures and requirement for a transplant is usually a rare incidence. At the same time, intestinal failure can cause life-threatening complications. Although a person can live without a large intestine, it is difficult to live without a small intestine. Intestinal transplantation can enhance the patient’s quality of life without any restrictions on food choices.
Vascular tissues transplantation: Vascular tissue transplantation is a procedure that can be carried out up to 24 hours of the death of the donor. This procedure helps in relieving symptoms of dizziness, extreme fatigue, and breathlessness. Vascular tissue transplantation is usually recommended for people suffering from congenital heart disease.