How to Prepare for an Organ Transplant

As the term implies, organ transplant is a procedure that replaces an organ with another organ. This is necessary when the organ is already failing and puts the person in a life-threatening situation. The doctor will remove the failing organ from the body of the patient and replace it with a healthier one.

Organs that can be transplanted include kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, lung and small intestine. Kidneys are replaced because of conditions like diabetes, lupus and polycystic kidney disease. The liver requires transplant primarily due to cirrhosis. Heart transplant is necessary for some patients with heart failure, coronary heart disease and cardiomyopathy.

Lungs need to be replaced due to cystic fibrosis and COPD. Diabetes can also make the pancreas stop working properly and may call for an organ transplant. The small intestine transplant may be needed because of Crohn’s disease, total parenteral nutrition (TPN) and necrotizing enterocolitis.

Most people choose to donate their organs after they die. They sign documents that state that their organs are to be donated after their death. However, some people can donate their organs even if they’re still alive. Living donors can donate a kidney, and a part of the liver, lung, and small intestine. A living donor should be between 18 to 60 years old, be physically fit, and is free from chronic diseases and mental ailments.

If you intend to donate your organ to a family member, friend or someone you know who’s in need of an organ transplant, the first thing you must do is to have blood and tissue tests to see if your organ is in good match with the donor. If not, the organ transplant will not be pushed through since the immune system may attack and reject the organ you donated.

Some of the tests that you need to take are cross-match for transplant, antibody screen, blood type, tissue type and mental health assessment. The cross-match test sees if the organ will be rejected by the recipient’s body. The antibody screen measures the amount of antibodies in the bodies of both the donor and the recipient. Blood type sees if the blood of the donor and recipient are compatible. Tissue type gives information about the genetic makeup of the cell. The mental health assessment probes if the donor is mentally fit to undergo the procedure.

It’s also very important that you take very good care of your health. Follow the doctor’s orders closely in terms of medical prescriptions, regular blood tests, diet and exercise. It would also be smart to talk with a mental health practitioner like a psychologist or psychiatrist so you will be mentally and emotionally prepared for the transplant.

Another way to prepare for the procedure is to talk to someone who had undergone a transplant. Inquire with the transplant center or with your doctor as to who you can talk to regarding this matter. It would help a lot to find out about another person’s experiences. This will answer your questions, erase your doubts and make you more at ease about the situation.

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