Transplant surgery is the medical practice of replacing malfunctioning organs or diseased tissue with healthy donor organs or tissue. Transplant surgery is reserved for individuals with severe disorders who cannot functionally improve through other forms of medical treatment. In order to qualify for transplant surgery in the US, candidates must be placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) transplant waiting list. Patients may be matched with a donor of a similar blood type and location, based on their positions on the list.
Transplant surgeons perform transplant surgery for a variety of conditions affecting different parts of the body. These procedures may include solid organ transplants, tissue transplants, and bone marrow transplants. A transplant surgeon might conduct:
Patients may receive what is called a living donor transplant. Organs or tissues are taken from a living donor and are grafted, or surgically inserted, into the recipient patient. A living donor may be a relative or sibling with similar genetic background, such as for blood marrow transplants. Other transplant donations are sourced from the recently deceased. Any donation from one human to another, excluding identical twins, is referred to as an allograft. Some conditions may permit an autograft, or a donation from one area of the patient's body to another injured area. Lastly, tissue for valve transplants may be performed through a xenograft procedure, where transplanted tissues are sourced from an animal.
Transplant surgeons may collaborate with transplant physicians, radiologists, oncologists, and disease specialists to provide comprehensive treatment. They work closely with transplant procurement coordinators, who oversee patient evaluation and eligibility and assign donor organs.