Health Topics

Transplantation and donation

Bone Marrow Transplantation
National Library of Medicine

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside some of your bones, such as your hip and thigh bones. It contains immature cells, called stem cells. The stem cells can develop into red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body, white blood cells, which fight infections, and platelets, which help the blood to clot.

A bone marrow transplant is a procedure that replaces a person's faulty bone marrow stem cells. Doctors use these transplants to treat people with certain diseases, such as

  • Leukemia
  • Severe blood diseases such as thalassemias, aplastic anemia, and sickle cell anemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Certain immune deficiency diseases

Before you have a transplant, you need to get high doses of chemotherapy and possibly radiation. This destroys the faulty stem cells in your bone marrow. It also suppresses your body's immune system so that it won't attack the new stem cells after the transplant.

In some cases, you can donate your own bone marrow stem cells in advance. The cells are saved and then used later on. Or you can get cells from a donor. The donor might be a family member or unrelated person.

Bone marrow transplantation has serious risks. Some complications can be life-threatening. But for some people, it is the best hope for a cure or a longer life.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Bone Marrow Transplantation
Immune System
Transplantation and Donation
Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside some of your bones, such as your hip and thigh bones. It contains immature cells, called stem cells. The stem cells ...
Bone Grafts
National Library of Medicine
Bone Transplantation

A bone graft transplants bone tissue. Surgeons use bone grafts to repair and rebuild diseased bones in your hips, knees, spine, and sometimes other bones and joints. Grafts can also repair bone loss caused by some types of fractures or cancers. Once your body accepts the bone graft, it provides a framework for growth of new, living bone.

If the transplanted bone comes from another person, it is called an allograft. Most allograft bone comes from donors who have died. Tissue banks screen these donors and disinfect and test the donated bone to make sure it is safe to use. If the transplanted bone comes from another part of your own body, it is called an autograft. Autograft bone often comes from your ribs, hips or a leg.


Bone Transplantation
Bones, Joints and Muscles
Transplantation and Donation
A bone graft transplants bone tissue. Surgeons use bone grafts to repair and rebuild diseased bones in your hips, knees, spine, and sometimes other bones ...
Organ Donation
National Library of Medicine
Donors
Tissue Donation

Organ donation takes healthy organs and tissues from one person for transplantation into another. Experts say that the organs from one donor can save or help as many as 50 people. Organs you can donate include

  • Internal organs: Kidneys, heart, liver, pancreas, intestines, lungs
  • Skin
  • Bone and bone marrow
  • Cornea

Most organ and tissue donations occur after the donor has died. But some organs and tissues can be donated while the donor is alive.

People of all ages and background can be organ donors. If you are under age 18, your parent or guardian must give you permission to become a donor. If you are 18 or older you can show you want to be a donor by signing a donor card. You should also let your family know your wishes.

Health Resources and Services Administration


Living Donors
Unrelated Donors
Tissue Donors
Transplantation and Donation
Organ donation takes healthy organs and tissues from one person for transplantation into another. Experts say that the organs from one donor can save or help as many as ...
Organ Transplantation
National Library of Medicine
Transplantation

You may need an organ transplant if one of your organs has failed. This can happen because of illness or injury. When you have an organ transplant, doctors remove an organ from another person and place it in your body. The organ may come from a living donor or a donor who has died.

The organs that can be transplanted include

  • Heart
  • Intestine
  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Lung
  • Pancreas

You often have to wait a long time for an organ transplant. Doctors must match donors to recipients to reduce the risk of transplant rejection. Rejection happens when your immune system attacks the new organ. If you have a transplant, you must take drugs the rest of your life to help keep your body from rejecting the new organ.


Organ Transplantation
Transplantation and Donation
You may need an organ transplant if one of your organs has failed. This can happen because of illness or injury. When you have an organ transplant, doctors ...
Kidney Transplantation
National Library of Medicine
Renal Transplantation

A kidney transplant is an operation that places a healthy kidney in your body. The transplanted kidney takes over the work of the two kidneys that failed, so you no longer need dialysis.

During a transplant, the surgeon places the new kidney in your lower abdomen and connects the artery and vein of the new kidney to your artery and vein. Often, the new kidney will start making urine as soon as your blood starts flowing through it. But sometimes it takes a few weeks to start working.

Many transplanted kidneys come from donors who have died. Some come from a living family member. The wait for a new kidney can be long.

If you have a transplant, you must take drugs for the rest of your life, to keep your body from rejecting the new kidney.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


Kidney Transplantation
Kidneys and Urinary System
Transplantation and Donation
A kidney transplant is an operation that places a healthy kidney in your body. The transplanted kidney takes over the work of the two kidneys that failed, ...
Lung Transplantation
National Library of Medicine

A lung transplant removes a person's diseased lung and replaces it with a healthy one. The healthy lung comes from a donor who has died. Some people get one lung during a transplant. Other people get two.

Lung transplants are used for people who are likely to die from lung disease within 1 to 2 years. Their conditions are so severe that other treatments, such as medicines or breathing devices, no longer work. Lung transplants most often are used to treat people who have severe

  • COPD
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
  • Pulmonary hypertension

Complications of lung transplantation include rejection of the transplanted lung and infection.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Lung Transplantation
Lungs and Breathing
Transplantation and Donation
A lung transplant removes a person's diseased lung and replaces it with a healthy one. The healthy lung comes from a donor who has died. Some people get ...
Pancreas Transplantation
National Library of Medicine

The pancreas is a gland behind your stomach and in front of your spine. It produces the juices that help break down food and the hormones that help control blood sugar levels. A pancreas transplant is surgery to place a healthy pancreas from a donor into a person with a diseased pancreas. It is mostly done for people with severe type 1 diabetes. It can allow them to give up insulin shots. An experimental procedure called islet cell transplantation transplants only the parts of the pancreas that make insulin.

People who have transplants must take drugs to keep their body from rejecting the new pancreas for the rest of their lives. They must also have regular follow-up care. Because of the risks, it is not a common treatment for type 1 diabetes.


Pancreas Transplantation
Digestive System
Endocrine System
Transplantation and Donation
The pancreas is a gland behind your stomach and in front of your spine. It produces the juices that help break down food and the hormones that help control ...
Stem Cells
National Library of Medicine
Cord Blood
Stem Cell Transplantation

Stem cells are cells with the potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body. They serve as a repair system for the body. There are two main types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells.

Stem cells are different from other cells in the body in three ways:

  • They can divide and renew themselves over a long time
  • They are unspecialized, so they cannot do specific functions in the body
  • They have the potential to become specialized cells, such as muscle cells, blood cells, and brain cells

Doctors and scientists are excited about stem cells because they could help in many different areas of health and medical research. Studying stem cells may help explain how serious conditions such as birth defects and cancer come about. Stem cells may one day be used to make cells and tissues for therapy of many diseases. Examples include Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injury, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

NIH: National Institutes of Health


Stem Cells
Hematopoietic Stem Cells
Transplantation and Donation
Stem cells are cells with the potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body. They serve as a repair system for the body. There are two ...
Islet Cell Transplantation
National Library of Medicine

Islets are cells found in clusters throughout the pancreas. They are made up of several types of cells. One of these is beta cells, which make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. Islet cell transplantation transfers cells from an organ donor into the body of another person. It is an experimental treatment for type 1 diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas no longer make insulin. A person who has type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to live. Transplanted islet cells, however, can take over the work of the destroyed cells. The beta cells in these islets will begin to make and release insulin. Researchers hope islet transplantation will help people with type 1 diabetes live without daily insulin injections.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


Islets of Langerhans Transplantation
Digestive System
Endocrine System
Transplantation and Donation
Islets are cells found in clusters throughout the pancreas. They are made up of several types of cells. One of these is beta cells, which make insulin. Insulin ...
Liver Transplantation
National Library of Medicine
Hepatic Transplantation

Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons. You cannot live without a liver that works. If your liver fails, your doctor may put you on a waiting list for a liver transplant. Doctors do liver transplants when other treatment cannot keep a damaged liver working.

During a liver transplantation, the surgeon removes the diseased liver and replaces it with a healthy one. Most transplant livers come from a donor who has died. Sometimes there is a living donor. This is when a healthy person donates part of his or her liver for a specific patient.

The most common reason for a transplant in adults is cirrhosis. This is scarring of the liver, caused by injury or long-term disease. The most common reason in children is biliary atresia, a disease of the bile ducts.

If you have a transplant, you must take drugs the rest of your life to help keep your body from rejecting the new liver.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


Liver Transplantation
Digestive System
Transplantation and Donation
Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons. You cannot live without a liver that works. ...