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December 21 2021

The Ins and Outs of Organ Transplants

The human body is made up of various organs, each with a specific purpose. They all work together under a systematic sequence so that the body functions normally. While some may not be as vital as others, each still has an important role to play.
It is essential to keep these organs in good condition by maintaining good overall health. Otherwise, they can fail, leading to life-threatening complications. Organ failure is a condition that can occur for many different reasons, such as trauma, genetic disorders, and infections, among others.
Fortunately, these body parts can often be saved through general surgery to treat the patient. However, some conditions may go beyond surgical treatment, which would require a transplant from a compatible, living or deceased, donor.
In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) lists that human transplantable organs include the kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, intestines, and pancreas, in addition to human tissues such as eye tissues (corneas, sclera, etc.), bones, skin, and blood vessels. When it comes to organ transplantation, the kidneys are among the most common. In fact, in 2019, over 10,430 kidney transplants were recorded in Southeast Asia alone, whereas other regions such as the Americas and Europe registered far more. This procedure is considered a medical feat, but is going through the process of getting one as complex?

What happens in an organ transplant? 

The process of getting an organ transplanted into another human body requires several complex steps, beginning from finding a healthy donor to post-operation care. Here is a more detailed look into this process and what goes on in between.
  • Organ sourcing

Organ donations are generally sourced from people pronounced by the medical team as “brain death.” A group of doctors evaluates these sources to determine their eligibility after gaining the consent of the patient's immediate family or relatives. However, there may also be instances where organ donations come from living-related donors who meet the requirements and consent to the procedure.
Since there are often many who are in need of an organ transplant, most patients are put on a waiting list until the next available matching donor.
  • Matching the donor with the recipient

Medical facilities spend a great deal of time matching compatible donors with patients needing a specific organ for transplantation. This ensures that the body will not reject the organ and have any adverse reactions against it after the procedure, which could be fatal.
At its essence, compatibility can often be determined by several factors such as blood type, organ size, and tissue typing, among others.
In most cases, living organ donations are considered more successful than getting them from deceased donors since they have fewer complications and offer a longer chance of survival. Alternatively, the patient's relatives also have a statistically higher chance of being a good match for transplants.
  • Transplantation preparation

Once a patient has successfully been assigned a compatible organ, they must immediately prepare for the transplant. For many, this involves making the necessary lifestyle changes for a quicker recovery, which entails avoiding risky activities and maintaining a specific diet. 
Others may also need to take this time to financially prepare for the operation's overall costs and other post-operation expenses. These include checking with insurance companies to review the medical benefits and prevent claims issues later.
  • The organ transplant process

After making all the necessary preparations, a team of surgeons will lead the operation where the ailing or failing organ will be replaced with the donor organ. During this process, the patient is put in a sleep-like state under general anesthesia. The same is also done for living donors.
Before the operation, living donors are also required to undergo specific tests to check if they may have certain infections and ensure the quality of the organ they will be donating.
  • Post-operative treatment

After a successful operation, the patient will be placed under observation for a few days. This is done to ensure that no harmful side effects or rejection occur. They are restricted from doing any strenuous activity that could possibly cause physical injury. Moreover, the patient should be getting enough rest during their recovery and prevent any stitches from opening to speed up the healing process.
Once the initial recovery time has passed, the patient will undergo a few more tests before being discharged from their healthcare facility and continue their recovery at home.

Every organ deserves much-needed care

Taking care of the body is essential to help ensure all vital organs function well, even after hitting old age. By maintaining healthy habits and lifestyles, the risk of organ failure is lower, and it helps avoid the need for an organ transplant in the future.
However, even with proper nutrition and healthy habits, some individuals still experience organ failure and would need a transplant at the soonest possible time.
For transplant needs, such as renal care services, or other medical inquiries, reach out to Makati Medical Center. As experts in the field, let their team of doctors and medical specialists ranging from the Section of Nephrology to the Department of Ophthalmology and Eye Care Center assist you with th