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Organ transplants

Organ transplantation involves removing organs from a donor and transplanting them into someone who may be very ill or dying from organ failure. It can save the life of the person who receives the organ.

Types of organ and tissue transplants

Organs that can be transplanted in Australia include the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, intestine and pancreas. Tissue can also be transplanted, including heart valves, skin, bone and parts of the eye.

Organs that can be transplanted, including heart, pancreas, kidney, skin, bone, liver and lungs

When are organ transplants needed?

You may need an organ transplant if you have an organ that is not working any more (end-stage organ failure). An organ transplant is usually considered after other possible treatments have been tried. It may be an option if specialists think the transplant can save your life.

A transplant can also be used to improve someone’s quality of life – for example, a kidney transplant for a person who has experienced kidney failure. And a tissue transplant may, for example, help someone who has suffered severe burns to a sensitive area of skin, such as the face.

Who can donate organs and tissue?

People can donate organs when they die (deceased donor) or they can donate a kidney or part of their liver while they are still alive (live donor). A living donor is usually a relative or close friend of the person who needs the kidney or liver transplant.

To read more about organ or tissue donation or to register as a donor, visit

Important issues to consider

Whether or not you have an organ transplant is for you, your family and loved ones, and your healthcare team to decide. It is important to understand your condition and the potential benefits and risks of organ transplant, as with any medical treatment.

You can find out more about the various organ transplants here:

Questions to ask your healthcare team

To learn about your choices and what may lie ahead, consider asking your healthcare team about the following issues. The answers to these questions will be based on your individual circumstances:

  • How long will I need to wait for the organ transplant?
  • What are the risks involved in the organ transplant?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What are my alternatives to having a transplant?
  • What will happen during the procedure?
  • What can I expect immediately after the transplant? What about a few weeks to months after the transplant?
  • What is the recovery time after the transplant?
  • What are the possible complications of the transplant?
  • How much will the transplant cost?
  • What post-transplant treatments, including medications, will I need? How much will they cost?
  • How long will the transplanted organ last for? What is my life expectancy with a transplant?

healthdirect's question builder is a tool to help you create a question list for your doctor’s or specialist's appointment. Go to the Question Builder, prepare your list, then print or email it so you remember what you want to ask.

Impact on your emotions

An organ transplant can affect not just your body but how you feel. Some people experience stress from possible organ rejection or side effects from medicines. Others find it difficult to adapt to their new situation.

It may help to speak with your healthcare team about how you feel following the procedure. You may also want to contact patient support groups to hear from people who have also had an organ transplant.

Life after an organ transplant

If you have had an organ transplant, you will probably need to take medications and have regular medical appointments for the rest of your life.

Rejection occurs when your body treats the transplanted organ as foreign and attacks it. Anti-rejection medications work on the immune system to stop this from happening. However, anti-rejection medicines may bring a higher risk of side effects such as infection. You and your healthcare team will usually need to work together to balance the risk of organ rejection with the risk of side effects.

It is also important to live a healthy lifestyle to help your transplanted organ last as long as possible. This usually includes things such as eating healthily, not smoking and getting enough physical activity. Your healthcare team will probably give you specific advice on taking care of your transplanted organ.

Last reviewed: September 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 486 results

Immunosuppressants in Organ Transplantation | myVMC

Immunosuppressants are a class of drugs that suppress the immune response through various mechanisms

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation

Organ and tissue donation is a life-saving and life-transforming medical process where organs and/ or tissues are removed from a donor and transplanted into someone who is very ill or dying from organ failure.

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Prograf (injection) | myVMC

Prograf injection is an immunosuppressive agent used after organ transplants. It contains tacrolimus to prevent an immune response to the transplant organ.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Kidney Transplant | myVMC

kidney transplant,renal transplant,transplant kidney,kidney transplantation,kidney transplants,after kidney transplant,kidney transplant donor,kidney transplant rejection,kidney transplant surgery,post kidney transplant,kidney transplant information,kidney,transplant,transplants,kidneys,transplantation,organ donation,organ transplant,renal transplantation

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Cysporin | myVMC

Cysporin is a medicine used to prevent organ rejection following an organ transplant. It contains cyclosporin, an immunosuppressive agent.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Azapin | myVMC

Azapin is an immunosuppressive medicine used to treat autoimmune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis and organ transplants. It contains azathioprine.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Prograf (oral capsules) | myVMC

Prograf is used as a maintenance therapy after organ transplant. Tacrolimus, the active ingredient is an immunosuppressive agent.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Azamun | myVMC

Azamun contains azathioprine an immunosuppressant given before organ transplantation and used to treat autoimmune conditions including arthritis and lupus.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Dexmethsone | myVMC

Dexmethsone contains dexamethasone a corticosteroid used to treat autoimmune and inflammatory conditions and for immune suppression in organ transplant.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Organ and Tissue Donation | myVMC

Organ and tissue donation: Organ donation is a procedure in which one person receives organs or tissues from another person. These organs are transplanted into the person in hospital to save or improve the quality of his or her life.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

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