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the transfer of living organs or tissue from one part of the body to another or from one individual to another. Transplantation and grafting mean the same thing, although the term grafting is more commonly used to refer to the transfer of skin. In dentistry, transplantation refers to the insertion into a prepared dental alveolus of an autogenous or homologous tooth; it may be a developing tooth germ from the same mouth, or a frozen homologous transplant.

Occasionally an emergency requires an organ to be transplanted from one place to another within the body. Kidneys, for example, have been relocated to enable them to continue functioning after the ureters have been damaged. Transplantation of an organ within the body, known as autotransplantation or an autologous graft, requires delicate surgery but otherwise poses no particular problem.

Eye surgeons have developed the procedure called corneal transplantation or keratoplasty, in which part or all of a diseased cornea that has become opaque is removed and replaced by healthy corneal tissue from an eye bank. Cartilage and bone are other tissues that are not difficult to transplant from one individual to another. Cartilage is particularly able to be made into various shapes and so is widely used in reconstructive surgery. Bone grafts are sometimes used instead of metal plates in operations to repair fractures, and they can also be used to replace diseased bone. Grafts made of synthetic materials may also be used, such as Dacron vascular grafts that replace parts of blood vessels.

Kidney transplants have been performed on dogs since 1902, but remained in the experimental realm in humans until a ground-breaking operation was performed in 1954 in Boston. A kidney from one identical twin was successfully implanted in the other to replace his diseased kidneys. Since that time kidney transplantations have been the most successful of transplantations, primarily because there are artificial kidney machines available (see dialysis and hemodialysis), and also because the kidney is a paired organ. This means that the donor need not be cadaveric but can be a living person (such as a relative of the recipient) and can be selected on the basis of tissue-type compatibility to avoid fatal rejection of the organ by the recipient.

In 1967 the South African surgeon Christiaan N. Barnard transplanted a human heart. Transplants of hearts and other vital organs are now being done at an increasing rate throughout the world. There are ethical and legal implications of obtaining healthy organs for transplantation, which still have not been completely resolved.
Rejection. The major problem to be overcome in transplantation therapy is rejection, an immune phenomenon. Organs such as the cornea, skin, and bone can be transplanted successfully because, in the case of the cornea, the vascular supply is not involved, or, in skin and bone, the transplant serves as a structural foundation into which the new tissue grows. In the case of intact organs such as the kidney, heart, lung, liver, and pancreas, a generous blood supply is essential to their survival in the recipient's body. The blood of the recipient carries in it many of the tools used by the body in defense against foreign substances. As blood is drained from the transplanted organ into the host's general circulation, the body recognizes the transplanted tissue cells as foreign invaders (antigens) and immediately sets up an immune response by producing antibodies. These antibodies are capable of inhibiting metabolism of the cells within the transplanted organ and eventually actively cause their destruction. They also play a role in delayed inflammatory response that can occur as late as weeks or months after implantation and adds to the destruction of the donor organ.

In order to minimize rejection and improve the chances of survival of a transplanted organ, efforts are made to match as closely as possible the blood types and tissue types of the donor and recipient. First, the blood is tested for ABO or blood type compatibility. Then, tissue typing is done to identify the protein antigens that are specific to each individual. These antigens are the hla antigens (HLA), so called because they are easily identifiable on leukocytes. The more compatible these antigens are between donor and recipient, the less likely tissue rejection will occur. A third test that is done is crossmatching, which involves mixing the intended recipient's serum with lymphocytes from the potential donor. A positive reaction would show destruction of the donor's cells by antibodies in the recipient's serum, thus eliminating the possibility of using an organ from that particular donor. The probability of survival of a transplanted organ is highest when the donor is a sibling who is HLA identical to the recipient.

Control of the immune response in the recipient is attempted by the use of immunosuppressive agents such as antilymphocyte globulin and antimetabolites, which tend to suppress the growth of rapidly dividing cells, and cyclosporine, which inhibits T-cell function. corticosteroids also are used because of their antiinflammatory effect. All of the chemicals used in transplantation therapy interfere in some way with the body's normal defense mechanisms. For this reason a delicate balance must be maintained in their administration so as to avoid tipping the scales either in the direction of rejection of the organ on one side or a fatal infection on the other.
Heart transplantation. From Ignatavicius and Workman, 2000.
allogeneic transplantation transplantation of an allograft; the three types are cadaveric donor, living related donor, and living unrelated donor transplantation. Called also allotransplantation.
bone marrow transplantation the intravenous infusion of bone marrow; the marrow may be autologous (from a previously harvested and stored self-donation) or allogeneic (from a living related donor or a living unrelated donor). Used to treat malignancies such as leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and selected solid tumors, as well as nonmalignant conditions such as aplastic anemia, immunologic deficiencies, and inborn errors of metabolism.
cadaveric donor transplantation allogeneic transplantation of an organ or tissue from a cadaver.
corneal transplantation transplantation of a donor cornea into the eye of a recipient; see also corneal transplantation.
heterotopic transplantation transplantation of tissue typical of one area to a different recipient site.
homotopic transplantation orthotopic transplantation.
living nonrelated donor transplantation living unrelated donor transplantation.
living related donor transplantation allogeneic transplantation in which the donor and the recipient have a close biological relationship, such as that of a parent and child or a brother and sister.
living unrelated donor transplantation allogeneic transplantation in which the donor and the recipient do not have a close biological relationship.
orthotopic transplantation transplantation of tissue from a donor into its normal position in the body of the recipient.
syngeneic transplantation living related donor transplantation in which the organ or tissue is a syngraft; called also isotransplantation.
xenogeneic transplantation transplantation of a xenograft; called also heterotransplantation.


Implanting in one part a tissue or organ taken from another part or from another person.
See also: graft.
[L. transplanto, pp. -atus, to transplant]


/trans·plan·ta·tion/ (trans″plan-ta´shun) the grafting of tissues taken from the patient's own body or from another.
allogeneic transplantation  allotransplantation; transplantation of an allograft; it may be from a cadaveric, living related, or living unrelated donor.
bone marrow transplantation  (BMT) intravenous infusion of autologous, syngeneic, or allogeneic bone marrow or stem cells.
heterotopic transplantation  transplantation of tissue typical of one area to a different recipient site.
homotopic transplantation , orthotopic transplantation transplantation of tissue from a donor into its normal anatomical position in the recipient.
syngeneic transplantation  transplantation of a syngraft.
xenogeneic transplantation  transplantation of a xenograft.


Etymology: L, transplantare, to transplant
the transfer of tissue from one site to another or from one person or organism to another.


The moving of a tissue or organ from one person–the donor or, less commonly, from a different site on the same person, to another person–the recipient, to replace a malfunctioning organ or organ system; solid organ and hematopoietic precursor transplantations are performed with increasing immunologic impunity in BM, bone matrix, heart valves, heart, heart-lung, kidney, liver, pancreas, skin and intestine, largely due to the availability of agents–eg, cyclosporine and tacrolimus–FK 506, which minimize the otherwise limiting complications of GVHD Complications Transplanted tumors Statistics Kidney 14,800; liver 5,350; heart 2155; lung 1042; kidney/pancreas 905; pancreas; 349; intestine 83; heart/lung 22; in Nov, 2003, 83,200 were on waiting lists at the 255 US medical centers that perform transplantations. See Allogeneic transplantation, Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation, Autologous bone marrow transplantation, Autologous chondrocyte transplantation, Bone marrow transplantation, Death row transplantation, Fetal tissue transplantation, Graft-versus-host disease, Hair transplantation, Half-side transplantation, Hand transplantation, Heart transplantation, Heart-lung transplantation, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Hepatocyte transplantation, Islet cell transplantation, Laser hair transplantation, Laser-assisted transplantation, Liver transplantation, Lung transplantation, Multiorgan transplantation, Organ transplantation, Organ cluster transplantation, Orthotopic transplantation, Pancreatic islet transplantation, Pancreatic transplantation, Procurement, Renal transplantation, Skin graft, Small intestine transplantation, Stem cell transplantation, Syngeneic transplantation, Transpecies transplantation, UNOS.


Implanting in one part a tissue or organ taken from another part or from another person.
See also: graft
[L. transplanto, pp. -atus, to transplant]


1. The grafting of donated organs or tissues into the body (homograft). Except in the case of identical twins, this process can succeed only if the rejection processes of the immune system are artificially suppressed.
2. The movement of tissue from one site to another in the same person (autograft). See also CTLA4-IG.


the transference of an organ or tissue from a donor to a recipient in need of a healthy organ or tissue. In recent years kidney, lung, heart and liver transplants have taken place. For successful transplantation to occur similar tissues types must be involved (see HLA SYSTEM and genetical similarity is one of the best ways of ensuring this. Drugs which inhibit the normal IMMUNE RESPONSES are used, but these also inhibit the body's defence against microorganisms. Rejection of foreign tissue is part of the normal response of the body and the development of drugs that will prevent rejection but which will not affect the normal response to microorganisms is actively being researched.


The removal of tissue from one part of the body for implantation to another part of the body; or the removal of tissue or an organ from one individual and its implantation in another individual by surgery.


the transfer of living organs and tissue from one part of the body to another or from one individual to another. Transplantation and grafting mean the same thing, though the term grafting is more commonly used to refer to the transfer of skin. See grafting (1).
Occasionally an organ is transplanted from one place to another within the body (autotransplants). Kidneys, for example, have been relocated to enable them to continue functioning after the ureters have been damaged. See also graft rejection.

transplantation antigen
see histocompatibility antigen.
bone marrow transplantation
has been used in the treatment of a variety of hematopoietic and immunological disorders, e.g. in dogs with aplastic anemia.
corneal transplantation
full-depth and part-depth (lamellar) transplants are performed in animals when there is scarring of the cornea in the visual axis but the operation is difficult, the aftercare intensive and the failure rate high.
transplantation immunology
the study of immune responses that distinguish between self and nonself and the rejection of transplanted tissue or organs.
tendon transplantation
the procedure is not favored in horses where it was at one time used as a treatment for tendonitis. The success rate for return to racing performance is poor.

Patient discussion about transplantation

Q. What is a bone marrow transplant? I wanted to enter myself as a potential bone marrow donor and wanted to know first of all what bone marrow is? What does a bone marrow transplant mean and how is it done?

A. Bone marrow is a soft, fatty tissue inside the bones. This is where blood cells are produced, and where they develop. Transplanted bone marrow will restore production of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Donated bone marrow must match the patient's tissue type. It can be taken from the patient, a living relative (usually a brother or a sister), or from an unrelated donor. Donors are matched through special blood tests called HLA tissue typing. Bone marrow is taken from the donor in the operating room while the donor is unconscious and pain-free (under general anesthesia). Some of the donor's bone marrow is removed from the top of the hip bone. The bone marrow is filtered, treated, and transplanted immediately or frozen and stored for later use. Transplant marrow is transfused into the patient through a vein (IV) and is naturally carried into the bone cavities where it grows to replace the old bone marrow.

Q. Has anyone had experience with a corneal transplant because of keratoconus?

A. my uncle had to do a transplant- it took 5 weeks until he could see anything , another year to get his vision straightened up. but now he is fine! i know that he looked for information in the "National Keratoconus Foundation". they were very helpful (and nice!), they have a website with information on all forms of treatment:

good luck :)

Q. I would like to know what it takes to get on a liver transplant list.. I have been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. I have been clean and sober now over 2 years... I have also been hospitalized more times than i don't like talking about but I have been admitted for high amounts of ammonia levels, low blood pressure, and dehydration

A. Thank you for your answer. At my next GI appointment, the doctors told me that to have someone else that i'd like to be there at which time he will explain it all to me and either my brother or sister because i've have been admitted so many times because of ammonia levels, my brain has hardly no memory left. Let's all with this disease stick together.

More discussions about transplantation
References in periodicals archive ?
A Phase II Study of Myeloablative I-131-Anti CD-20 (Tositumomab) Radio- Immunotherapy and Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (ASCT) for Adults 60+ Years of Age With High-Risk Relapsed or Refractory B-Cell Lymphoma [Abstract 487]
An autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation technique that achieves lymphoablation without myeloablation proved effective against severe refractory systemic lupus erythematosus in a preliminary study.
3) The treatment options for AL amyloidosis include chemotherapy, bone marrow transplantation, or autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT).

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