Organ Transplant Surgery

Organ transplants save the lives of patients with end-stage organ failure.

Last modified: October 17, 2011

Diane Boerstler
NLP Practitioner and Positive Behavior Support Specialist

Organ Transplants

Organ transplants replace an unhealthy or non-functioning organ with a healthy donor organ.

An organ transplant is often necessary if one or more of the bodies organs are failing due to disease, or because they have been weakened.  Almost any organ within the human body can be transplanted, although kidneys, liver, heart, pancreas, small intestine, bone marrow, spleen, and lungs are the most common types of transplants.

Medical professionals within the realm of organ transplants are known as 'specialists' or surgeons, and are specifically titled based on the organ in which they specialize. It is important to note that doctors specialize in different types of ailments, and the doctor that identifies and treats your ailment for a particular organ does not necessarily perform the transplantation surgery for that organ.  In fact, a cardiologist can diagnose issues of the heart, but a cardiovascular surgeon will perform the heart transplant surgery. Consideration must also be given to the likelihood of the organ functioning or failing after the transplant has occurred. 

The procedure for receiving an organ transplant varies by the type of organ.  First, a medical professional who specializes in the specific type of organ that requires a transplant will need to work with the patient to determine what type of treatment will be the most effective.  Some transplant procedures require that radiation or chemotherapy is performed prior to transplanting the organ. This is especially common in bone marrow transplantation. The chance of full recover must be weighed based on age, weight, overall health, medical history, and any surgeries or diseases that have already been performed in that area of the body.  Next, the specialist evaluates what blood type and other characteristics are necessary in the donor organ.  After the specialist has fully evaluated the patient, and assisted the patient in deciding if an organ transplant is the right treatment option the patient's name is placed on their ailing organ's transplant list. Medications may be prescribed in the meantime to help the patient to maintain optimal health while waiting for the transplant. Once a matching donor is found the patient returns to the hospital to be prepared for the surgery.

Preparation for organ transplantation is similar across all organ transplant types. Preparation may involve shaving the area where the incision will be made to access the organ. Anesthesia is almost always used to place the patient into a painless state of unconsciousness, and the patient will be hooked up to monitors which measure their respiration and heart rate.  An incision will then be made in the designated area, the diseased or destroyed organ will be removed, and the donors organ will be attached and placed within the vacant cavity.

All patients will be required to remain at the hospital for monitoring after the surgery as well as follow a very strict recovery plan to ensure that their body does not reject the organ.

Please contact the appropriate organ transplant surgeon to assist you in deciding if an organ transplant is your best option for a healthy new life.

Heart Transplant

A heart transplant is a form of living organ transplant that is performed when a patient requires a new heart to survive life threatening ailments such as coronary artery disease and end stage heart failure.

Kidney Transplants

A Kidney transplant is a form of living organ transplant that is performed when a patient requires a new kidney, or pair of kidneys to survive end stage renal disease brought on by any history of disease.

Liver Transplants

A liver transplant is a type of organ transplantation that is performed when a patient requires a new liver to survive end stage liver disease or acute liver failure. 

Bone Marrow Transplants

Bone marrow transplants are the transplant of stem cells into the same, or a secondary person for the purpose of reducing the number of destroyed stem cells within the patients body.    There are three specific types of bone marrow transplants; autologous, allogeneic, and umbilical cord blood transplant.

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This article was written by the medical research team at does not intend for any of the information on this site to be regarded as medical advice - it is meant as a starting point for understanding treatment details and options before contacting a registered, licensed doctor. We advise all patients to seek medical advice from a doctor.
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