What is transplant surgery?
Organ transplantation is a surgical procedure where an organ is removed from one body (a donor) and transferred to another body (the recipient) by a general surgeon. It is a complex and crucial procedure that needs to be done quickly to avoid long-term damage to the organ being transplanted.
When should I see a specialist for transplant surgery?
If medically necsesary, your general surgeon will advise you on when the best time to receive an organ or tissue transplant will be.
Some organs that can be successfully transplanted include:
● Combination of heart and lungs at the same time
Transplant surgery can also include tissue such as:
● Heart valves
Did you know?
Since 1 November 2009, Singapore’s Human Organ Transplant Act has allowed for the kidneys, heart, liver, and cornea to be removed in the event of death for the purpose of transplantation. This covers all Singapore citizens and permanent residents 21 years of age and above, unless they are mentally disordered or have opted out.¹
What are the risks of transplant surgery?
The biggest risk of transplant surgery is your body rejecting the donated organ. Advances in medicine have made this less likely to happen due to medicine you can take. This medicine will always be given to you following transplant surgery.
Other risks include:
● Infection – due to side effects of immunosuppressive medication
● Underlying diseases – organ donors are carefully screened but sometimes there is a small risk of picking up underlying conditions
● Adverse reactions to the anaesthetic
How do I prepare for transplant surgery?
If your surgeon has suggested an organ transplant, it is important to consider all the information such as whether the benefits of the transplant outweigh the potential risks.
Talk with your surgeon in detail about your options, and how many similar procedures they have done. It might be a good idea to study general statistics on the your particular organ to see what success rates are like in your area.
Talk to your family and friends about supporting you through your surgery, as you will likely need as much help as you can get once you are home.
What can I expect during transplant surgery?
Organ transplant is a major operation that will require a general anaesthetic. The anaesthesiologist will administer the anaesthesia.
You will be connected to an echocardiogram (ECG) machine as well as a blood pressure machine to monitor your heart and circulation. Once you are asleep, you will also need a tube inserted into your airway to assist your breathing throughout your operation.
The surgical team will then proceed with the planned surgery. Because of the nature of anaesthetic medication, you will not have any memory of the procedure.
What happens after I receive an organ transplant?
You will likely spend a few weeks in hospital to recover from your surgery. This will also allow your surgical team and nurses to monitor your recovery closely.
Rejection of your donated organ is the main concern following transplant surgery. It is a normal body response. You will be prescribed anti-rejection medication which you must take to reduce your risk of rejection.
Once you leave the hospital, your general surgeon will follow up with you regularly to check on your progress.Request an appointment with a general surgeon today.