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Organ transplantation is the replacement of organs that cannot any longer fulfill their duties and/or that may even be harmful to the rest of the body. Organ transplantation is often the only solution left for end stage organ failure patients, as in liver and heart failure. Although end stage renal disease patients can be treated through alternative renal therapies, kidney transplantation is generally accepted as the best alternative in terms of therapeutic benefits, quality of life, and societal cost effectiveness. The most frequently transplanted organs and tissues are the kidney, the liver, the heart, the lungs, pancreas, bone marrow, cornea, bones, and small intestines. Transplanted organs come from either brain dead individuals or alive donors.
According to the data compiled and released by the Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation, about 104, 650 solid organs are transplanted annually with the following estimated breakdown in 2009:
- Kidney : 72,100
- Liver : 21,175
- Heart : 5,405
- Lung : 3,650
- Pancreas: 2,320
The above numbers for transplantation activity, however, translate into less than 10% of global needs.
The extent of need for organ transplantation coupled with the lack of organ donations has rendered this a public health problem in the modern era. This phenomena is expected to worsen as life expectancy and chronic diseases increase globally. For example, recent research shows that the number of kidney diseases will double globally within the next ten years. Over 2 million people in the world live their lives dependent on dialysis or organ transplantation. In Turkey alone, there are over 55,000 people living on dialysis or through organ transplantation. This number is expected to reach 100,000 by 2015.
Diseases that may lead to the need for kidney transplantation
- Diabetes: Diabetes can fundamentally disrupt the entire vascular system of the body. Since vascular deterioration may also lead to kidney diseases, diabetics are at higher risk of kidney failure. Unless timely intervention is undertaken, chronic disease can set in and lead to irreversible kidney damage.
- Hypertension: High blood pressure causes structural damage in the capillaries, and resulting tears and leakages may disrupt functioning of the kidneys. Such problems would present with increased protein in the urine and control of blood pressure is of utmost importance for kidney health.
- Recurrent kidney stones: Kidney stones are generally hereditary so family history of kidney stones is critical. On the other hand, nutritional habits, such as high intake of calcium, may effect formation of kidney stones as well.
- Urinary tract infections: Attention should be paid to urinary tract infections, especially in children, as the leakage of urine from the bladder back to the kidney may cause infection and damage in the kidneys.
- Polycystic kidney disease: Polycystic kidney, which is a congenital and genetic condition, may deteriorate over time and the fluid-filled cysts may impair the filtration function of the capillaries in the kidneys. Such impairments may lead to kidney failure, expediting the need of dialysis and transplantation.
- Hereditary Mediterranean Fever: Highly prevalent in our region, this disease could go all the way to kidney failure, despite the fact that it can be cured 100% with medication once diagnosed