What is an organ transplant?
Organ transplantation is when organs or tissues are taken from a 'donor' and given to a 'recipient.'
What can be transplanted?
Major organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver and lungs can be transplanted. Tissues such as skin, bone, heart valves and connective tissues can also be transplanted.
How is it transplanted?
The most common way of transplantation of the major organs is from 'dead donors.' Dead donors are only available for a matter of hours and therefore are very difficult for the donor's family to decide what they want to be done with the organs. Putting the patient on life support until a decision can be made can extend this period of time.
The organ shortage
There is a severe shortage of organs around the world and this means many people have to wait long periods of time for an organ transplant. It has been said in the UK, patients waiting for transplants are part of a 'postcode lottery.'
This is when organs are only given to patients in close proximity to the donor. This is unfair because, for example, a person on an Outer Hebridean island is going to be waiting for a transplant much longer than a patient in the centre of London.
Should donation be made compulsory?
In some countries, organ donation is compulsory and if you don't wish for your organs to be harvested then you would have to carry a 'non donor card.' This is a good way of guaranteeing that there are plenty of organs within a country.
The way forward
As there is a shortage of organs, there are ways that could be used in the future to ensure those that need organs get them. One way is by cloning heart cells and constructing a...