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Organ Transplantation

The Present and Future of Organ Transplantation

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Organ transplantation is the surgical process of inserting and applying a healthy and proper functioning organ into a person’s body in place of a failed/damaged organ. It is one of the greatest advancements in medical history.

Organ transplantation is usually required by people facing conditions including

  • Poor working conditions or failure of an organ
  • Genetic conditions such as polycystic kidney disease or heart defect
  • Infections like hepatitis that affect the organ
  • Physical injuries to organs
  • Damage due to chronic illness/conditions

People who require an organ transplant are usually very sick due to serious illness and might die in case of no transplant. Organ transplantation in these cases can increase a person’s lifespan and help them to lead a normal life. The most commonly transplanted organs in the human body include the kidney, liver, heart, lungs, pancreas, and intestines.

Organ transplantation is a complex procedure that requires a close match between the recipient and the donor. Additionally, some organ transplantations are life-saving procedures that can cause serious illness, graft loss, and even death in case of undetected infections in donor organs and tissues. Therefore, laboratory testing for certain infectious pathogens is required in deceased organ and tissue donors.

Organ Donation Statistics

The demand for organ transplantation is huge as compared to organ donors. Due to this, several patients suffering from organ failure die every day just waiting for a transplant. According to the Organ Donation Statistics provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration, a total of 106,660 people including men, women, and children are on the National Transplant Waiting List and have still not received any organ donor. The statistics also reveal that 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant.

A Medical Marvel

To overcome this shortage and meet the demands of thousands of patients, scientists have developed genetically altered pigs whose organs can be transplanted into the human body without getting rejected. For years, pig heart valves and kidneys are transplanted into the human body. However, scientists have recently achieved a breakthrough and the world’s first successful heart transplant was recently performed by placing a pig’s heart inside the human body.

The first successful heart transplant of a pig to human was an eight-hour procedure that was performed by Dr. Bartley Griffith–the director of the cardiac transplant program at the University of Maryland Medical Center. As of now, the patient has not shown any symptoms of rejection after the heart transplant. However, he will still be monitored for immune system problems and other complications.

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