Today, medical transplants are considered relatively ordinary with new strides being made every day since the first kidney transplant in 1954.
Not that long ago, an organ transplant would be viewed as impossible. The idea of transplanting a person’s organ into another person to replace a heart, liver, kidney, or other organ that was no longer functioning was mind-boggling. Organ transplants are often life-or-death situations, and the development of them has helped produce some pretty remarkable procedures that have had very remarkable results.
Bone Marrow Transplant
Bone marrow is the part of the body where red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, three things that are imperative for proper body functioning, are produced. Sometimes, however, diseases like leukemia, chemotherapy for these diseases, and other kinds of infections can wear down bone marrow, which can have a negative effect on the production of blood cells. In order to remedy this damage, patients can receive a bone marrow transplant.
As is the case with any kind of medical donation, the marrow must be a match, and once a match is found, the donor is put under anesthesia, and stem cells are taken from their hip bones. The stem cells are then transplanted into the person who needs them, and they spur the production of blood cells. Bone marrow transplants have made doctors optimistic about curing diseases like sickle cell anemia, and several kinds of cancer.
The Triple Transplant
The triple transplant is exactly what it sounds like – an organ transplant involving three different organs, the heart, liver, and kidney. As of 2019, less than twenty had been performed in the United States, with the University of Chicago having performed most of them. This kind of medical transplant is incredibly difficult because of the long, strenuous surgery time, the number of skilled surgeons that are needed, and the daunting task of finding a match for not just one organ, but three.
The three organs do not have to come from one donor, but it is easier for the body to accept the new organs if they are all from the same donor. Typically in a triple transplant, the heart is done first, followed by the liver, and then a kidney. The triple transplant is incredibly complex and must be pulled off flawlessly to be successful. It is one of the most incredible developments of modern medicine and will continue to save many lives.
The First Windpipe Transplant
One impressive innovation in medical transplants was made just this month, when the first windpipe, also known as trachea, the transplant was performed successfully. The recipient of the windpipe had suffered damage to her trachea after she had been intubated for too long and believed that the transplant would improve her situation. It has taken many years and many teams of researchers and medical professionals because the hair-like structures inside the organ and the difficult task of getting blood to the windpipe have delayed their progress.
It was an extremely long surgery and required the connecting of many different arteries and veins so that blood flow, and consequently oxygen, could reach the trachea. Since the trachea transplant is a very new procedure, it likely won’t become as commonplace as a kidney transplant anytime soon, but the possibilities it has to offer are promising and exciting.
The world of medicine has come a long way in just the past few decades, and today, many different organs can be transplanted from donors to help save a person’s life. Some of the more remarkable innovations in medical transplants are the triple transplant, a bone marrow transplant, and a windpipe transplant. All three of these procedures, along with organ donation in general, have transformed medicine, and saved lives while doing so.