What Is Living Organ Donation?
Due to the high demand for organs, Physician's have developed ways of taking some organs from living persons willing to donate and transplanting them into recipients waiting for organs. The first successful living donor transplant was a kidney transplant between twins in 1954.
Currently, about 6,000 living donations take place each year! Organs that can be transplanted from a living donor and recipient are kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, and intestines. Skin, bone, blood, bone marrow, stem cells, and umbilical cord blood can all also be donated by living donors!
With thousands of people on the waiting list for an organ, the wait can be excruciatingly long- years in some cases. Sometimes when this happens, a friend, family member, or even a complete stranger will step up an offer an organ, or part of an organ, to the waiting candidate. Below is some more information about the different kinds of living organ donations.
Kidneys are the most common organs transplanted via living donor. The first living organ donation was a kidney transplant done between twin brothers in 1954. Once a donor and recipient are matched, the transplant is done immediately.
Recovery time for a living donor is between 1 to 4 weeks. Contrary to popular belief, there are no restrictions and diet, activities, family planning, or added medications for the donor afterward. Life expectancy is not diminished either after donation.
Most often these donations are done between parents and children, adult to adult living liver transplants are rare, but still very possible. Hundreds of living donor liver transplants are done every year thanks to friends, family members, and good Samaritans who become living donors!
In the last 10 years, living liver transplants have developed into a good alternative to traditional liver transplants due to the long wait times for candidates on the transplant list. Liver donations are unique in that the liver will regenerate itself from the transplanted lobe in both the donor and the recipient within a few weeks.
Living lung donors are exceedingly rare, less than 5 we're done in the US in 2011. In an adult, one lobe is taken from two donors, together those are transplanted to replace one lung in the recipient. In a pediatric recipient, one lobe is taken from the adult donor, usually a parent.
Intestinal transplants from living donors are also relatively rare, from its introduction in 1998 to 2004, only 25 transplants from living donors were done. Intestinal transplants from living donors are usually done by a sibling or parent. They are an excellent solution to intestinal failure that is no longer responding to treatment or in cases where the patient can no longer tolerate the treatments needed.
Also a rare transplant, pancreatic transplants from living donors were initially done because of the very poor outcome with cadaver transplants. As the transplant procedures improved, the need for living pancreas donors decreased. Since its start in 1977, only a little over 160 living pancreas transplants have been performed.
After extensive testing and cross-matching, insulin-producing cells (islet cells) are removed from the donor pancreas and transplanted into the recipient. It is extremely effective in type 1 diabetics you are no longer responding to treatments and are facing long waits on the transplant list.