Organ transplantation, or organ donation, is when one of the person’s failing organs are removed and replaced with a better organ that was taken from another person. Organs can be failing because they could have had a disease or damaged due to different factors. Also, some people are unfortunately sometimes born without a certain organ that they may need to live with.
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These people are part of the many people out there who are waiting for a replacement for one or more of their organs. An organ transplant is probably the last method to do when all other cures, treatments, and procedures fail.
The first successful organ transplant occurred in 1954. The transplant was performed by David Hume and Joseph Murray. A kidney was donated from a living person to another living person. These two people were twins so donating the organ had a higher success rate. However, the article Historical Overview of Transplantation by Clyde Barker and James Markmann states that, As early as 600 b.c., the use of autogenous skin flaps to replace missing noses was conceived. The human skin is one of our largest organs, so replacing some skin from one person to another person is also considered as organ donation. During these early times many basic transplantation like this happened. They were successful because the doctors used detached or free grafts of the patient’s tissue or that of other donors (Barker). During the 19th century, researchers started finding more major skin transplantation. In 1869, a person named Jacques-Louis Reverdin was able to find out that small, thin (split thickness) grafts would heal (Barker). This was a major advancement because it helped treat many injuries and diseases such as ulcers, open wounds, and burns. In the 20th century many more major discoveries and transplants occurred. In 1963, an organ was successfully recovered from a person who was brain dead. This was a very important discovery because organs are still recovered today from brain dead donors. Also, another important transplant was the heart transplant in 1967 which is still very important. Organ donation has kept advancing more and more over the years.
Because of advancement and more research, organ donation has kept on becoming more successful. Researchers have created medicine to take, so your body will not reject the new organ in your body. The medicine is immunosuppressant. Without this medicine the donated organ will not be able to function because the body will not let it to do its function. The rejection may not happen very quickly, but the person will experience different symptoms. Some symptoms can be pain where the transplant was done, feeling sick, a fever, losing or gaining weight, swelling, and changing heart rate. However, other than rejection other problems can occur. The medicine taken will suppress your immune system, hence, the name immunosuppressant. The person will be more vulnerable to diseases, illnesses, infections, and germs. Also, after a surgery anyone is vulnerable to these things too but because of the medicine it can be worse for people that have received an organ. In an article Barry Friedman says “Living with a transplant is always about keeping the balance between rejection and infection. This basically means that the immunosuppressant medicine will help your body not reject and attack the organ but it will also make you less immune. They must be very careful and take care of themselves. Regularly doing physical exercise and maintaining a good diet helps out. Physical exercise should not include sports where you make contact with other people because this can lead to injury and infection. Additionally, they should visit the doctor often for checkup. Eventually, after a few weeks or a few months, you will get used to the new routine and your body will get used to the new organ. Other than these type of advancements, research, and medicine, there are also technological advancements.
There are a lot of technological advancements that have occurred and are still going on. Something that I found very interesting is 3D printing artificial organs. Scientists are now making the organs that are needed for daily living. Some include the heart, brain, and arteries. 3D printing an object was invented by the engineer Charles Hull in the early 1980s. It has advanced so much since then and many people can use their imagination to make amazing things. The start of organ printing began in 2003 when Thomas Boland of Clemson University patented the use of inkjet printing for cells. This process utilized a modified spotting system for the deposition of cells into organized 3D matrices placed on a substrate (Wikipedia). This means that Thomas Boland was able to find out a way to 3D print cells. This is known as bioprinting because of printing of biological structures. This then lead to printing of tissues and then organs. So far successful 3D printed organs that have been printed and shown that they function are flat, vascular, and hollow organs. An example of a flat organ is skin, an example of a vascular organ is a blood vessel, and an example if a hollow organ is the bladder. Research is still going on about 3D printing extremely vital organs like the heart or kidney. It should be extremely difficult to copy the function of an actual heart to an artificial heart. The artificial heart would have to be made precisely and be able to push out blood with a lot of force just like an actual heart is able to do. Another benefit 3D printing organs will have is cost efficiency. Right now it is not that expensive to 3D print objects and scientists and doctors are already printing out prosthetics without losing a lot of money. 3D printing artificial organs will definitely have a lot of benefits once it is perfected.
Many different countries have different views on organ transplant. Also, different countries have different laws and rules concerning organ transplant. Things like illegal organ trading and the black market are reasons why these laws and rules are made. Some countries, like China, only allow some hospitals to transplant organs. This helps keep unknown and illegal organ trading and transplants to a minimum. Additionally, China use to take organs from executed prisoners without their consent or taking their families consent. They have ceased doing that in 2014 and are now trying to ask for organ donations from regular citizens. Also, other countries have laws that will punish you if you commence in illegal organ trading. One major factor that can decide if an organ donation is illegal or not is consent. Different countries have different laws on this too. In the U.S., if you want to donate an organ when you die, you must opt in which basically means you must tell them that yes you will donate your organ once you have died. Other countries, however, have a different way. In countries such as Austria, laws make organ donation the default option at the time of death, and so people must explicitly opt out of organ donation (Scheiber). This basically means that by default when you die you will donate any organ that can be donated. If you do not want to donate your organ you must tell them beforehand that you do not want your organs donated. In these opt out countries more than 90% of people donate their organs (Scheiber). In opt in countries like the U.S. fewer than 15% of people donate their organs at death (Scheiber). This data can show us that it probably is better to donate organs by default when you die than having to tell someone that you can donate. Also, aside from this the country Iran is the only country in the world where it is legal to buy a kidney (Singh). People who sold their kidneys were given compensation from the government and from hospitals and doctors. This helped cease the kidney donation waitlist and more people were able to receive donations. However, many countries still have a long waitlist for organ donations that is still increasing.
Demand for an organ has kept increasing and is still increasing. This increase of demand makes the organ donation waitlist longer. The U.S. are one of the countries with a long waitlist. This could be because they still choose to use the opt in method. Countries with the opt out method have almost no waitlist because the rate of organ donation is much higher. In addition, people must be educated about the benefits of organ donation. If more people know what good they can do with donating an organ, more people will give their consent to actually donate their organs. Social media has also took action. Facebook put the ability to put your organ donation status. This helped increase the rate in organ donation registrations. Also, Apple had in update to their iPhones which allowed people to register for organ donation directly through their phones. Eventually the rate in organ donation will hopefully increase through all these methods.
Organ donation, or organ transplantation, is and will always be beneficial. Many people have a need for an organ transplant because it is their last resort. It is in high demand now in the U.S. and in other countries around the world. People need to be educated about the benefits of organ donation so it can hopefully help increase the amount of organ donors. In addition, more research is being done to create more medicine to help make it easy on the people that have received an organ and to help those that donated. Even though organ transplant is the last resort it is definitely very beneficial for anyone in need.
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