What is an organ transplant?
An organ transplant replaces a failing organ with a healthy
organ. A doctor will remove an organ from another person and place it in your
body. This may be done when your organ has stopped working or stopped working
well because of disease or injury.
Not all organs can be
transplanted. Organs most often transplanted include:
- The kidney , because of
polycystic kidney disease,
lupus, or other problems.
- The liver , because of
cirrhosis, which has many causes.
- The heart , because of
coronary artery disease,
heart failure, and other heart
- The pancreas , because of
- The lung , because of
COPD, and other problems.
- The small intestine, because of short bowel syndrome caused by necrotizing enterocolitis, Crohn's disease, and other problems. An intestine transplant is sometimes an option if you have problems with total parenteral nutrition (TPN).
More than one organ can be transplanted at one time. For
example, a heart and lung transplant is possible.
Not everyone is
a good candidate for an organ transplant. Your doctor or a transplant center
will do tests to see if you are. You probably are not a good candidate if you
have an infection, heart disease that is not under control, a
drug or alcohol problem, or another serious health
If your tests show you are a good candidate, you are put
on a waiting list. It may be days, months, or years before a transplant takes
How successful is an organ transplant?
Organ transplants have been done in the United States since the
1950s. The procedure is always improving, and transplants are more successful
today than ever before. Organ transplant success depends on:
- Which organ is transplanted.
many organs are transplanted. For example, you could have a heart transplant or
a heart and lung transplant.
- The disease that has caused your
organ to fail.
How do you prepare for an organ transplant?
you'll need to have blood and tissue tests done that will be used to match you
with a donor. This is because your immune system may see the new organ as
foreign and reject it. The more matches you have with the donor, the more
likely your body will accept the donor organ.
You'll need to take
care of your health. Continue to take your medicines as prescribed and get
regular blood tests. Follow your doctor’s directions for eating and exercising.
You also may want to talk with a
licensed mental health counselor about your
To learn more about what happens, talk to someone who
has had a transplant. Your transplant center or doctor can give you the name of
someone who is willing to share his or her experience with you.