Heart and lung transplant
Organ transplantations are now performed as the therapeutic option of choice. In many cases, transplantation offers definite treatment for a given disease entity. As a result, the list of patients needing an organ transplant has risen considerably, placing increasing pressure on an already limits supply of donor organs. A heart and lung transplant is a very complex surgical procedure performed to remove the diseased heart from a patient and replace it with a healthy heart from an organ donor. In order for the heart to be donated, two or more doctors must declare the donor brain-dead. To be put on a waiting list for a transplant, the doctor and or doctors must the make the determination that there is no other treatment option available for the person’s heart failure.  Even though the procedure does save lives and it can be very necessary, there are many risks within the procedure that must be looked at before the transplant is performed. Infection, rejection of the donor heart, bleeding during or after the surgery, blood clots that can cause heart attack, stroke or lung problems, breathing problems, kidney failure and coronary arteriopathy are all risks that accompany the procedure. The fact that the new heart may be rejected by the body’s immune system is also a factor that doctors pose. Rejection is the natural reaction from the body to fight a foreign object or tissue. When a new heart is transplanted into a recipient’s body, the immune system reacts to what it perceives as a threat and attacks it. Medications are put in place to outwit the immune system into accepting the heart and not attacking it. Rejection can also occur even if the patient is being treated with medications to suppress the immune system (immunosuppressants). But also, unfortunately, these medications come with their fair share of side effects to what are determined by the specific medications that are taken. There are two types of rejection; acute rejection (where rejection occurs directly after surgery) and chronic rejection (where rejection occurs many months or years after surgery). Extreme tiredness, swelling of arms and legs, weight gain, a high temperature of 38 degrees or over and palpitations (the sensation of the heart beating too fast and or irregularly) are all signs that the body may be rejecting that transplanted heart. Rejection can usually be treated by increasing the dose of immunosuppressant medication . Because immunosuppressant medication weakens the immune system to allow the donor heart to transfuse with the system, it makes the body more vulnerable to infection. Three most common types of infection that affect people who have heart transplants include: bacterial infection, fungal infection and cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. CMV is a common virus that is part of the herpes family of viruses.  Bacterial infection of the lungs (pneumonia) is common in the first few weeks after a transplant. The symptoms for this include; breathing difficulties, coughing up phlegm that may be yellow, green, brown or blood stained, wheezing, a rapid heartbeat, high temperature, pain in the chest. Bacterial infections are usually just treated with antibiotics. Fungal infections are not as common as bacterial infections but they can also develop in the first few weeks after having a transplant. These infections can form in the skin, nails, mouth, and in feet. The infections can cause scaling and redness in the skin and itchiness. More serious fungal infections can develop inside the body such as in the lungs or in the blood stream. Non-invasive fungal infections can be treated using anti-fungal creams and tablets. Invasive fungal infections may require the patient to be admitted into hospital and be treated with injections of anti-fungal medication.  One of the most serious complications that can occur after a heart transplant is that the heart fails to work and does not start beating, or stops’ beating soon...
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