Organ transplantation is defined as the movement of one organ from an individual into another individual on the basis of organ donation. Regenerative medicine is an emerging field which is enabling scientists and engineers to be able to create organs that can be regrown by making use of the stem cells of the original individual or someone who has donated their own cells. The organs that are transplanted into the same person’s body via this method are considered to be autografts. When transplants are performed between two individuals of the same species, it is called allografts. These allografts can be provided by a living or cadaver source. The organs which can be transplanted include the thymus, heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, and intestines.
Tissues which can be transplanted include the tendons, bones, skin, cornea, veins, and heart valves. The kidneys tend to be the most commonly transplanted organs available around the world. This statistic is followed by transplantations of the liver and the heart. However, the cornea and other related musculoskeletal grafts are also the most commonly transplanted in terms of tissues, and these transplants easily outweigh organ transplants by around tenfold. Tissues can be preserved for up to five years so that they can be used in the future for people who may need to receive transplants. However, transplants raise concerns in terms of bioethical issues.
There are some groups which do not support organ transplants because of their religious beliefs. Elements such as living wills and other types of legalities make it fairly impossible for someone to volunteer the organs of another individual for donation unless they have actual consent from the person in question. There are some people that believe that the use of organ transplants condones a type of self-harm. There are also some groups which debate whether it is ethical to keep someone who is brain-dead artificially animate to keep organs preserved in order to ensure that those organs could be used for future transplantation into other individuals. It is not uncommon for there to be debates over the terminology brain death in comparison to cardiac death and whether these elements make it ethical to use organ transplants.
Although there is a lot of concern over the use of transplants, it has had a very positive impact on many lives throughout the years. As a result, there is a growing focus and call towards the public to consider the option of submitting themselves for organ donation in order to help other people who are in need of transplants in the future.