Organ transplant

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Organ transplant involves removing an organ from one body to that of another where it has failed or has been damaged because of illness or injury. The doner of the organ may be living or dead.


Why should I be aware of this?

  • Transplantation medicine is one of the most challenging and complex areas of modern medicine. One of the most critical areas is the problems of organ rejection - where the body has an immune response to an organ as a result of which transplant fails and the organ can be kept in a functioning state while it is transplanted from one body to another.
  • The demand for transplants has far surpassed the supply of donated organs. As a result there aren't enough organ donors, so patients must wait months, even years, for their chance at recovery.

All about organ transplant

Failure of organs such as kidney, lung and the liver can be effectively treated by a transplant. For problems with the heart, the lungs and other highly sensitive organs, a transplant is typically the course of last resort and a viable option.

Kidneys and livers may be transplanted from a living donor, since people are born with an extra kidney and the liver is regenerative. Even a lung can be transplanted from a living donor, but this is still very rare. For these procedures, a patient will generally find a willing donor in a friend or family member. If the donor is a match, they can proceed directly to the surgery stage. A smaller number of living transplants come from charitable people donating for the general good.

A deceased donor is needed for transplant of a heart, a double lung, a pancreas or a cornea. Those who are brain dead but on artificial life support are generally acceptable as their organs remain healthy even though they are technically dead.

The latest development in transplants is face transplant, an advanced technology which enables doctors to transplant part, or all, of a face from a donor. Earlier, the only ­way t­o fix severe facial disfigurement was with skin grafts which involved taking pieces of healthy skin from elsewhere on the body or from a cadaver and placing them over the missing parts of the face. Face transplant looks and acts far more realistic than skin grafts.


  • There's no defined cutoff age for donating organs. Organs have been successfully transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s. [1]
  • The decision to use an organ is based on strict medical criteria. It may turn out that certain organs are not suitable for transplantation, but other organs and tissues may be fine.[1]
  • The rich and famous aren't given priority when it comes to allocating organs. It may seem that way because of the amount of publicity generated when celebrities receive a transplant, but they are treated no differently from anyone else. [1]
  • The organ donor's family is never charged for donating. [1]

90 degrees

The shortage of donated organs in the United States is so severe that many patients are seeking out transplants in other countries. In some countries, notably China, foreigners can buy the organs they need instead of waiting at home. These organs typically come from executed prisoners who have not volunteered to donate organs.

This situation is extremely controversial in the organ transplant community. Paying for organs is considered unethical in most Western nations, as is the recovery of organs if the donor has not agreed to donate them. Furthermore, there is strong indication that execution schedules are being modified to meet patient demand. [2]


There is a myth that organ donation is against some religions. In reality, organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most religions. This includes Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam and most branches of Judaism. If you're unsure of or uncomfortable with your faith's position on donation, ask a member of your clergy. [1]

See also

Face transplant


How Organ Transplants Work


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Mayo Clinic
  2. HowStuffWorks