Organ transplantation is a medical process that involves removing a healthy organ or tissue from one patient, the organ donor, and inserting it into another patient, the recipient, or moved from one location to another in the same person surgically to improve the quality of life of the recipient. Organ transplantation occurs when a patient’s organ or tissue has failed or been damaged by a disease or an injury.
Organs and tissues that can serve as transplants are:
- cells – bone marrow and stem cells,
- organs – heart, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, stomach, intestine,
- tissues – bone, corneas, skin, tendon, heart valves,
- vascularized composite allografts, which include blood vessels, nerves, etc.
A major limitation of organ transplantation is the lack of availability of organ donors. This results in several deaths of people whose failed organs completely stopped working. An organ donor can be any healthy person who considers his/herself as a potential donor. However, the organs are subjected to several medical evaluations after the donor’s death to check their suitability. Before an organ or tissue is transplanted, there must be a close match between the recipient and the donor. Potential recipients are matched with donors based on:
- blood types,
- tissue types,
- organ size,
- patient’s medical urgency,
- time spent on the waiting list,
- geographical proximity, etc.
Certain risks such as complications during the surgery, bleeding, infections are associated with organ transplantation. In addition, there are conditions in which a recipient’s body rejects an organ after transplantation when the recipient’s immune system attacks the organ. Hence, the recipient must be closely monitored in the hospital after the transplant for signs of infection such as a fever. The recipient will also be given anti-rejection medications and other medications to aid their health in the long term.