When a person is planning for a liver transplant or is getting evaluated for being someone’s living donor, they need to understand the science involved in it. They need to understand the effects that it will cause on their day-to-day life, their health, and the future.
Getting an organ transplant can be a life-saving operation for many people in case of organ failure. It might add some more years to the patient’s life, according to an analysis of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). More than 123,000 people are waiting for organ transplants in the United States, out of which 100,000 are waiting for a kidney transplant.
This tells us that the need for organs is outweighing the number of patients. Only 28,000 transplants were done in the last year, according to national data from the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. Each day, around 18 Americans are dying while waiting for an organ transplant.
So, if you are considering an organ transplant or putting up your name for organ donation, there are certain things you should be aware of first.
Here are 10 points that your doctor may not tell you about organ transplants:
1. Transplanted organs have a limited life
While transplanting an organ to replace a diseased or failed one can prolong the recipient’s life, transplants have their own lifespan. For instance, a transplanted pancreas will only work for five years in 57 percent of patients. This means that some patients might need a second transplant after a few years.
A transplanted liver usually functions for five years in 70 percent of patients. After a heart transplant, the five-year survival rate for the patient is about 76 percent.
2. Transplanted organs might be disease carriers
Before the transplant, organs are screened thoroughly to rule out any common infections or diseases. This helps diminish any dangerous contamination. Even after these thorough protocols, two out of every 100 people who receive a transplant contract a hidden infection or disease along with it. This attributes to around 560 patients per year in the United States. Infectious diseases such as viral, bacterial and fungal illnesses are very commonly spread.
3. The mental pressure and cost of donating an organ are very high.
Donating a kidney or your liver can save someone’s life, but the process has many surprising outcomes to it. Donating an organ means losing time from work, thereby losing pay. The travel costs for surgery and medical care after the procedure burn a big hole in the pockets.
Otherwise, the kidney transplant price in India, although lesser than the other countries can cause a big hole in the pockets of the family.
4. Living organ donors have lower life insurance covers
An unexpected event of donating an organ can change the donor’s eligibility for health insurance coverage. A 2014 survey of people who donated their kidneys, found out that they were turned down for life insurance coverage. In some cases, people might also be charged higher than their usual premiums.
5. A transplant may be risky for the donor’s health
Some countries around the world deny the acceptance of living donors. The families who need transplants, therefore, travel to different countries and get the surgeries done. The risk of contracting infections after surgery is usually higher, as high as 52% of people returning from organ donation in different countries return with infections.
6. Liver transplant does not cure Hepatitis C.
The leading cause of liver failure in the United States is a viral infection called Hepatitis C. But after getting a liver transplant, the new liver can also become infected with hepatitis C once the transplant is done.
7. A kidney transplant may be the only option if there is renal failure.
If the kidneys are failing, the doctor discusses the option of a kidney transplant. A study showed that people informed about the transplant option are three times more likely to have one. However, given that the availability of the organ is limited, the doctors don’t end up discussing this with the families. Sometimes, the financial limitation of the patient may also prevent the doctor from recommending this option.
8. Women don’t usually get the tests done for being donors
People on dialysis needing a kidney transplant may get offers from different members of the families for being a donor. But in comparison to men, only a few women go through with organ donation, as per a 2014 survey of dialysis patients.
9. Obesity will not allow you to have a transplant.
The BMI of the patient or the donor needs to be below 30 for anything to happen. This means that the person has to be less than 203 pounds if he is 5-feet 9-inches tall. Being obese causes more health problems, and the time to heal is also more. Obese people are more prone to have infections at the wound site. And the chances of organ rejection are also higher.
10. The waiting list is determine by where you stay
The wait time for an organ may be from months to years, and the doctor cannot promise or comment on this fact. The liver transplant in India depends on this fact, therefore if the patient is looking for a living donor transplant or is waiting for the transplant from the list.
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