The surgical procedure of transplanting vital organs into a recipient whose own organs are defective or have ceased to function as a result of disease. Transplantation of corneas from recently deceased donors was developed in the 1940s. Advances in immunology have made organ donation possible since the early 1960s, beginning with kidneys, then the heart, liver, lungs, pancreas, and segments of intestine. The donor of single vital organs, such as the heart, must of course be deceased, but one of a set of paired organs, typically kidneys, or part of a single organ, such as the liver, can come from a live donor. Essential steps in organ donation include ensuring an immunologically compatible match and the assurance that no life-threatening disease agent, such as HIV or prions of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, is transmitted to the recipient. Informed consent and speed in transfer of the donated organ or tissue are other requisites. In some low-income countries, an unconscionable trade has arisen to sell organs to surgeons and their patients in wealthy countries.
Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology — Law.