Deceased donation

Overview

Transplantation is an amazing concept – to be able to replace an organ that doesn’t work in one person with one that has been functioning in someone else. And it works! Although transplantation is now “standard” medical treatment, it has only become feasible in the past few decades. The period when there was no hope of successful treatment for someone with kidney or liver failure, is within living memory.

People of all ages and from all walks of life can develop organ failure and sadly will die if they do not receive a transplant. It is difficult to overestimate the immense benefit that having an organ transplant makes to a person who needs a transplant. It is undoubtedly the ‘gift of life’, with a massive impact on not just the individual but their parents / spouse / siblings / children.

The Public Health Agency of NI is raising the awareness of organ donation and has an excellent website with detailed information. Please click here to access this.

Types of transplant

The first successful ‘solid organ’ to be transplanted was the kidney (1954), and now transplantation of liver, heart, lungs, pancreas and small bowel are all possible. Although treatment with medications and, for example, dialysis for those with kidney failure, can help patients whose organs are failing, all of these are very limited. A successful organ transplant however can restore normal function and is really transformational, both for the patient and their family.

Donation from someone who is living

The kidney is unique – a healthy person with two good kidneys can live a full and normal life with just one so it is possible for a kidney to be taken from a living person and for it to be transplanted into someone with kidney failure. Click here to information about this. It is possible, but riskier, to take part of a liver from a healthy person to give to someone else. A few centres in the world will use part of a lung from a living donor. In general though, except for the kidney, people who are in need of a transplant are dependent on the gift of life from someone who has passed away.

Donation from someone who has died

Sometimes when a person passes away it is because of a catastrophic problem with one part of their body – such as a head injury after an accident or a stroke. If they have been otherwise in good health the rest of their organs are working very well. After death it is possible to remove the healthy organs and then place them into patients who will otherwise die because one of their own organs doesn’t work at all.

Overview

Transplantation is an amazing concept – to be able to replace an organ that doesn’t work in one person with one that has been functioning in someone else. And it works! Although transplantation is now “standard” medical treatment, it has only become feasible in the past few decades. The period when there was no hope of successful treatment for someone with kidney or liver failure, is within living memory.

People of all ages and from all walks of life can develop organ failure and sadly will die if they do not receive a transplant. It is difficult to overestimate the immense benefit that having an organ transplant makes to a person who needs a transplant. It is undoubtedly the ‘gift of life’, with a massive impact on not just the individual but their parents / spouse / siblings / children.

The Public Health Agency of NI is raising the awareness of organ donation and has an excellent website with detailed information. Please click here to access this.

Types of transplant

The first successful ‘solid organ’ to be transplanted was the kidney (1954), and now transplantation of liver, heart, lungs, pancreas and small bowel are all possible. Although treatment with medications and, for example, dialysis for those with kidney failure, can help patients whose organs are failing, all of these are very limited. A successful organ transplant however can restore normal function and is really transformational, both for the patient and their family.

Donation from someone who is living

The kidney is unique – a healthy person with two good kidneys can live a full and normal life with just one so it is possible for a kidney to be taken from a living person and for it to be transplanted into someone with kidney failure. Click here to information about this [Becoming a living kidney donor]. It is possible, but riskier, to take part of a liver from a healthy person to give to someone else. A few centres in the world will use part of a lung from a living donor. In general though, except for the kidney, people who are in need of a transplant are dependent on the gift of life from someone who has passed away.

Donation from someone who has died

Sometimes when a person passes away it is because of a catastrophic problem with one part of their body – such as a head injury after an accident or a stroke. If they have been otherwise in good health the rest of their organs are working very well. After death it is possible to remove the healthy organs and then place them into patients who will otherwise die because one of their own organs doesn’t work at all.

Unfortunately there is a very limited period of time for this to be successful – if there is a delay in retrieving the healthy organs after the person has passed away then it is not possible to use them to help someone else (they will not work). The decision as to whether or not someone will donate their organs has to be made before they pass away.