A Gift of Life

I met a mother of two and midway into our conversation, she coughed blood and collapsed. At the hospital, the diagnosis was acute liver failure. Her attending doctor said to get her kids from boarding school to say goodbye to their mum. Their mom might not be when it is dawn -except, she gets a liver transplant before the night is over.

The doctor’s last statement lit up her husband’s heart with hope. But hope’s light went dim when he realized he was an incompatible donor.

As the doctor stated, the patient might die or get a new chance to live with a liver transplant. A liver transplant is a medical procedure that removes the liver of a donor to place in a recipient.

The liver is not the only organ that can be transplanted. Other organs that might be transplanted successfully include the pancreas, lungs, heart, and kidneys, among others. Body tissues such as the cornea, bone, and veins could also be transplanted. And the procedure is generally referred to as Transplant Surgery.

Transplant surgery is a surgical specialty that transplants organs from deceased or live donors to recipients who need a fully functioning organ. Transplant surgeons are specialized physicians who perform transplants. The cases of transplant surgery usually involve organ failure, as replacing the damaged organ may extend the life of the recipient. Other reasons for transplantation include transplanting healthy donor bone to save a limb or transplanting healthy donor skin to affected areas to reduce healing time.

It is possible to get a needed tissue or organ from the same person in need of a transplant, or another person. The two different cases are called autograft and allograft, respectively. Allografts can be from live or deceased donors.

A live donor needs to be in a good state of health, and can only donate an organ or part of an organ in which the rest can regenerate or take on the workload of a whole organ. Deceased donors are usually brain dead, or dead by circulatory death. However, permission has to be given by a Kin, or by filling an organ donor card. There is usually an order system that places patients in need of transplants on a list. The order determines the organ recipients to receive available organs. This order is, however, bypassed when the organ donor selects a particular organ recipient.

Transplantation has some challenges in which transplant rejection is one. The organ recipient’s body can have an immune response to the transplanted organ, which can lead to transplant failure. Serotyping is used to reduce the risk of transplant rejection as it determines the most appropriate donor-recipient compatibility. Also, the use of immunosuppressant drugs has helped reduce cases of transplant rejection

Although there is the risk of transplant rejection, transplant surgery still holds the ability to give patients an extended life, a new chance to live. The mother of two also got that chance that night. A co-worker had walked in as her ‘good Samaritan.’ And after being tested as a compatible donor, the doctor scheduled a transplant surgery. Part of the co-worker’s liver replaced the damaged liver, and the mother of two received a gift to live again.

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