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Organ transplantation

Organ transplantation may be considered as one of  the miracles of twentieth century medicine.Transplant can save lives .Organ transplantation is the best therapy for terminal and irreversible organ failure. In some cases ,transplant  can also restore function to improve quality of life like transplanting the cornea is not necessary for life, but can restore sight.A transplant is an organ, tissue or a group of cells removed from the donor and transplanted into the recipient or moved from one site to another in the same person.To reduce the risk of rejection of the donated organ, the recipient will probably need to take immunosuppressive medication for the rest of their life.


 Types of Transplant

It is the transplantation of tissues in the same person.A transplant from one part of body to another part is called an autograft.

Below are a few examples of autografts

  • skin graft – uses healthy skin to help heal a wound or burn on another part of the body
  • blood vessel graft – provides an alternative route for blood flow to bypass a blocked artery, for example, in heart bypass surgery
  • bone graft – reconstructs a damaged area of the body, for example, in spinal fusion
  • bone marrow graft – for example, in a person with cancer, bone marrow collected before chemotherapy can replace their blood stem cells after high-dose chemotherapy.

The main advantage of autograft is that there is least probability of rejection, so long-term medication,immunosuppressants is not needed. However, the retrieval of the tissue results in a new wound in addition to the transplant site, from which the person will need to recover.

It is the transplantion from other people.A transplant between two people who are not genetically identical is called an allotransplant .Donor organs and tissues can be from people who are living, or people who have died because of a significant brain injury or lack of circulation.
Allotransplantation can create a rejection process where the immune system of the recipient attacks the foreign donor organ or tissue and destroys it. The recipient may need to take immunosuppressive medication for the rest of their life to reduce the risk of rejection of the donated organ.
For some transplants like bone marrow, there is also the possibility that immune cells in the donated bone marrow will recognise the host’s body as foreign and attack the cells of the host. This is known as graft-versus-host disease (GvHD).A transplant between identical twins is called an isograft. The recipient will almost never reject an isograft and so immunosuppressants are not needed.

It is the transplantation from other species.A transplant across species is called a xenotransplant.Heart valves from cows and pigs have been used for many years to replace faulty heart valves in people. The animal valves are treated before use to reduce the risk of the immune system rejecting the valve. Heart valves may also be replaced with human valves (allotransplant) or mechanical heart valves.

Transplantable organs and tissues

According to WHO,Kidney transplantation is by far the most frequently carried out transplantation globally.Although end stage renal disease patients can be treated through other renal replacement therapies, kidney transplantation is generally accepted as the best treatment both for quality of life and cost effectiveness.
Transplants can be for:

  • organs – heart, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, stomach and intestine
  • tissue – cornea, bone, tendon, skin, pancreas islets, heart valves, nerves and veins
  • cells – bone marrow and stem cells
  • limbs – hands, arms and feet.

Although less in number,multi-organ transplants also occur each year. Common multi-organ transplants include heart and lungs or pancreas and kidney.
Medical advances and research  have opened new opportunities for innovation in transplant and are expanding to include face transplants!

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