Organ Transplants Rejection and Transmitted Diseases

Organ Transplants Rejection and Transmitted Diseases

Organ transplants rejections and transmitted infectious diseases are the two main complications of organ transplants surgeries that are scary for patients and their family.

Organ transplant saves lives. In the U.K., 3,960 organ transplants were carried out between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012 because of the generosity of 2,143 donors. About 1,107 lives were saved through lung, heart, and liver transplants, 2,846 liver improved by kidney or pancreas transplants. Approximately, 942,000 people register their wishes on to help others after their death on the NHS Organ Donor Register which brings a total of 18,693,549 in March 2012.

While everyone would love organ transplants to be without setbacks, this is not always the case.  This is the reality the transplant recipient has to understand. However, the term rejection does not mean gloom and doom.  It’s just one of the hurdles a patient has to overcome to reach the finish line.

Our immune system is our body’s protection against any foreign bodies and in normal situations; it deals with bacteria or virus. A newly transplanted organ is seen by the immune system as an enemy that must be destroyed so it will normally reject it.  Since your body’s ability to fight infection will decrease, patients are prone to infections. Anti-rejection drugs can be taken after the surgery to prevent rejection episodes and inhibit part of the immune system.

What are the risks of organ transplant rejection?

Organ transplantation has risk of breathing problems and bleeding, or side effects from medicines. After the surgery, you are prescribed immunosuppressive drugs to keep your immune system from attacking the new organ because it will think it as your own.

While organ transplant rejection is common during the first six months of surgery, it can occur any time. It is important that you are aware of the possible rejection signs like flu-like symptoms, fever, cough, chest congestions, and shortness of breath, fatigue, and pain so you can report them to your health care provider.

Advances in the development of immunosuppressive drugs have led to great transplant success over the last two decades. However, despite these advances, many patients still suffer from anti-rejection drug’s side effects.

Organ transplants illness from organ transplants donor.

Organ transplants are life-saving procedures but there are growing numbers of the transmitted infection’s cases.  Illnesses and death rarely occur from undetected infections from donors, although a wide array of bacteria, viruses, and parasites have been unknowingly transmitted through transplants despite extensive donor screening. While a new Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN) policy required procurement centers to report to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) any suspected donor-derived malignancy and infections, 1% of transplant recipients are suspected to have transplant-transmitted infection, including the March 15, 2013 rabies transmission.

Maryland Department of health, CDC, and Mental Hygiene confirmed after investigation that a patient who died of rabies in Maryland contracted the infection through organ transplantation. The organ transplantation occurred over a year ago which is consistent with the long incubation period, which is 1 to three months. Investigation revealed that the organ recipient had no prior exposure to animals and identified the transplant-related transmission possibilities.

In 2011, the donor who became ill and died in a healthcare facility in Florida was not suspected of rabies as a cause of death so rabies testing was not performed.  Three people who received organs from this donor were evaluated by the healthcare team and received anti-rabies shots.

According to CDC, all potential organ donors in the U.S. are tested and screened to identify infectious diseases risk ensuring successful and safe organ transplants.

Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas

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