A medical transplant involves the removal of a faulty body organ or tissue and replacing it with a healthy organ obtained from the same body, different person, or from other animal species. While transplantation began as early as in the 6th century, the survival rate of the recipients was low compared to the current transplantation procedures. The common transplantation procedures involve the transfer of body organs, tissues, limbs, and cells. The transplantation procedures have positive impacts, such as prolonging life and relieving pain. However, some organs and tissues that may not be compatible with the recipient’s body can adversely affect the immune system and cause infections.
Organ or tissue transplant is a special medical procedure involving replacing dysfunctional organs and tissues with healthy ones.1While the tissues and organs may be obtained from a different person (donor), some are replaced from one body area to the other within the same person. Historically, the art of transplantation began in the 6th century, when some Indian surgeons attempted to replace wounds on the face using the skin from different parts of the body.2Besides, some medical personnel in middle age attempted to transplant teeth and perform a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, most of the early transplants were unsuccessful and were associated with a very low survival rate. In the 20th century, the survival rate after medical transplants began to rise due to technological advances. According to Rana and Godfrey, heart, kidney, and skin transplants have a good survival rate and are more efficient than medical therapies.3
Types of medical transplants
Auto-transplantation is when body tissues and organs are transplanted from one area to another within the same person. For instance, skin grafts involve the replacement of wounded skin with skin from a different body part. Besides, auto-transplantation can be performed during spinal infusion and the replacement of bone marrow in cancer patients.
This is a transplantation procedure that involves the removal of a healthy body organ from one person to treat another person. For instance, a person suffering from kidney failure can have a kidney replacement from a healthy donor. While somebody tissues and organs are obtained from living individuals, some are obtained from dead bodies due to blocked circulation or brain injury.
Xenotransportation involves the replacement of damaged body tissues with healthy ones obtained from different species. For instance, healthy heart valves from pigs and cows normally replace damaged human heart valves.
The transplantation of body organs and tissues can be performed for:
- Tissue –heart valves, skin, cornea, pancreas islets, bones, nerves, and veins.
- Organs- lung, kidney, pancreas, intestines, heart, and liver.
- Limbs – arms, feet, and hands.
- Cells – stem cells and bone marrow.
Effects of medical transplants
According to Hwang et al., medical transplants have both positive and adverse effects in the short and long-run.4 The positive impacts of medical transplants include; improve life quality by prolonging life and relieving pain, and helping to avoid some medical procedures such as therapies and dialyses. On the other hand, transplantation has significant adverse effects such as rejection of the donor’s organ or tissue by the recipient’s body, increasing the chances of further infections. De Pasquale et al. states that most cell transplants are associated with weak immunity, which may cause other health challenges to the recipient.5
Transplantation procedures such as auto-grafts, allotransplants, and xenotransplant help improve life’s quality and increase the chances of survival in patients. However, some associated negative effects of transplants may even worsen the health condition and cause death. Although most transplant procedures have positive effects, it is worthwhile to assess the receptivity of the organs and tissues by the patient’s body and the long-term impacts of the procedure to reduce the chances of further infections.
- Grinyó JM. Why is organ transplantation clinically important?. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine. 2013 Jun 1;3(6):a014985. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3662355/
- Barker CF, Markmann JF. Historical overview of transplantation. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine. 2013 Apr 1;3(4):a014977. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3684003/
- Rana A, Godfrey EL. Outcomes in solid-organ transplantation: success and stagnation. Texas Heart Institute Journal. 2019 Feb;46(1):75-6. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6379008/
- Hwang Y, Kim M, Min K. Factors associated with health-related quality of life in kidney transplant recipients in Korea. Plos One. 2021 Mar 11;16(3):e0247934. Available from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0247934
- De Pasquale C, Pistorio ML, Veroux M, Indelicato L, Biffa G, Bennardi N, Zoncheddu P, Martinelli V, Giaquinta A, Veroux P. Psychological and psychopathological aspects of kidney transplantation: a systematic review. Frontiers in psychiatry. 2020 Mar 5;11:106. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00106/full