Transplant, transplantation, organ transplant, organ replacement

During a transplant, an organ, cells or tissue are removed and placed in another part of the body or in another person’s body, where they are expected to continue functioning as normal to improve the recipient's quality of life or keep them aliv

Overview

During a transplant, an organ, cells or tissue are removed and placed in another part of the body or in another person’s body, where they are expected to continue functioning as normal to improve the recipient's quality of life or keep them alive.

Basic problems relating to organ transplants

  • Retaining the function of the transplanted organ
  • Preventing rejection
  • Combating infections
  • Ethics of organ donations and transplants
    • Waiting list, prioritisation
    • Lack of organs
General legal framework: Transplantation Act of 1 July 2007

Types of organ donation

  • Autotransplantation: donor and recipient are identical
    • Skin (most often)
    • Hair
    • Bone, cartilage (for defects)
    • Blood vessels
    • Tendons (hand and foot surgery)
    • Nerves
    • Autologous blood donation (i.e. for own use)
  • Allotransplantation: donor and recipient are two different persons
    • Kidneys
    • Liver
    • Heart, heart valves
    • Bone marrow/stem cells
    • Lungs
    • Pancreas, islet cells
    • Small intestine
    • Cornea of the eye
  • Xenotransplantation: a transplant of organs or tissue from one species to another

Information about allotransplantation

  • Donor has died
    • Most common form of allotransplantation
    • Consent during lifetime or from direct relatives is required
    • After brain death or cardiovascular arrest
    • Confirmation of death according to specific guidelines by two independent specialists
  • Donor is alive
    • E.g. a kidney or part of the liver
  • Tissue compatibility must be ensured
    • Tissue typing before surgery
  • Risk: rejection of the organ after the transplant
    • Immune reaction to the new organ
    • Immune system identifies the organ as a foreign body
    • Rejection and destruction of the organ
    • Consequence: medication to suppress the immune system is needed
  • Consequences of immunosuppression
    • Higher susceptibility to infectious diseases
    • Higher rate of cancer
    • Objective: balancing the risk of rejection and the risk of infection
  • Criteria that exclude a transplant
    • Tissue doesn’t match
    • Very advanced age
    • Advanced cancer
    • Organ failure in patients with a severe lung or heart disease
    • Dementia
    • Severe infections (e.g. active tuberculosis or hepatitis B)

Causes and treatment

Cause

Examination

  • A variety of examinations are required depending on the organ and clinical picture
  • Specific investigations and preparatory measures
    • Ensure biological compatibility (is the organ a 'good match'?)

Therapy

  • Organ transplant
  • Immunosuppression (suppression of the immune system)
  • Careful rehabilitation
  • Regular follow-up checks

What can I do myself?

  • Take your own decision
    • Attitude to organ donation
    • Attitude to organ reception
  • Record decision (YES, NO, depending on the organ)
    • National Organ Donor Register
    • Organ donor card (on your smartphone or in your wallet)
    • Advance healthcare directive
    • Inform relatives/trusted persons
  • Advantages
    • Easing of relatives’ burden
    • Easing of medical staff’s responsibility
    • Decision can be changed at any time

When to see a doctor?

  • Regular follow-up checks
  • Feeling unwell and experiencing problems

Further information

Federal Office of Public Health, FOPH (Bundesamt für Gesundheit, BAG)
www.leben-ist-teilen.ch
www.bag.admin.ch/bag

Swisstransplant
www.swisstransplant.org/en/

Synonyms

transplant, transplantation, organ transplant, organ replacement

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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