The following information will help answer some of your questions about an organ transplant. It will also provide information about medications used to prevent organ rejection.
What is an organ transplant?
An organ transplant is a surgical procedure to replace an unhealthy organ with a healthy one. The person who gives the organ is known as the donor. Heart, kidney, liver and lung are the most common organ transplants.
What causes the need for an organ transplant?
Depending on the organ, there are different reasons it may stop working properly. Below are some common reasons:
- Heart — Some conditions either damage or overwork the heart muscle and lead to heart failure. These conditions can include coronary heart disease (CHD), high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Kidney — Diabetes and high blood pressure damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, which can cause kidney failure.
- Liver — Chronic hepatitis C infection or long-term alcohol abuse are the most common causes of cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a condition when scar tissue replaces healthy tissue in the liver until it can no longer function.
- Lung — Lung transplants are used most often to treat people who have severe COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and cystic fibrosis (CF).
What is rejection and how can it be prevented?
Before a transplant, your doctor and transplant team will run some tests to make sure that you receive the best possible organ match for your body. Your immune system may still think that the new organ is strange and may attack it. When this happens, it's called rejection.
To help prevent organ rejection, your doctor will prescribe medications called immunosuppressants. These medications prevent rejection by slowing down or "suppressing" your immune system. You'll have to take these medications long term.
View a video with more information on Organ Transplant treatment and care.
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