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Organ Transplant

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Learning About Transplants

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What if you're not a good candidate for an organ transplant?

You may not be a good candidate if you have an active infection, unstable heart disease, or another serious medical problem. Also, you will not be considered for organ transplant if you have a problem with alcohol or drugs.

If you are told that you are not a good candidate for organ transplant, find out if there are other treatments for your condition. Many people can live for years with serious health conditions.

The goal of your care may shift to maintaining your comfort. Talk to your loved ones about the type of care you would like to receive. Discuss their expectations as well as your wishes, care needs, and finances and the needs of your family. Your choices may change as your illness changes.

How successful are transplants?

Organ transplant success depends on:

  • Which organ is transplanted.
  • How 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.
  • The age of the donor organ. In general, the younger the organ donor, the healthier the tissue. But recent research is challenging this thought. It may be that some older organs work just as well as younger organs.
  • The length of time that the donor organ is out of the donor's body. The more quickly an organ is transplanted after it is removed from the donor, the more likely that the transplant will be successful.
  • How well the organ was preserved just before transplantation. The donor organ must be properly preserved while it is being transferred, especially if it was transferred from a long distance.

Success rates usually state how many people who receive the transplant are living 5 years after the transplant.1

  • Kidney: About 8 or 9 people out of 10 (82% to 91%)
  • Liver: About 7 or 8 people out of 10 (74% to 79%)
  • Lung: About 5 people out of 10 (54%)
  • Pancreas: About 8 or 9 people out of 10 (85% to 89%)
  • Heart: About 7 people out of 10 (75%)
  • Intestine: About 6 people out of 10 (58%)
1|2|3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 18, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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