Infographic: Transplant 101

Transplant 101

Transplantation covers a wide field of medicine, much more than just organ replacement.

Solid organ

Keeping the body's systems running with a donated heart, kidney, liver, lung, or pancreas.

Bone marrow

Fighting blood cancers and diseases with infusions of stem cells.


Rebuilding and replacing skin, bone, cartilage, or corneas.

Vascularized composite allograft (VCA)

Transplanting complex body structures such as hands, face, and larynx and trachea.

There are many ways to give the gift of life.

Deceased donors

The primary source of donated organs. Limited by the nation's organ shortage and how quickly the organ can reach the recipient.

Living organ donation

  • Kidney: A minimally invasive surgery is performed to remove one of the donor's kidneys.
  • Liver: Approximately half of the donor's liver is removed through an incision.

Paired kidney donation

Recipients with donors who aren't a match can swap donors to find compatible kidneys or form a chain with other donor/recipient pairs.

Blood stem cell and bone marrow donors

Living donors have one of three collection methods performed:

  • Peripheral blood stem cell: A nonsurgical procedure where blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that will collect only the blood-forming stem cells. The remaining blood is returned through a needle in the other arm.
  • Bone marrow: A surgical procedure where doctors withdraw liquid marrow from both sides of the back pelvic bone.
  • Umbilical cord blood: For some patients stem cells collected from umbilical cord blood may be used.

A field of continuing innovation

The first successful kidney transplant took place 60+ years ago. Innovations continue to expand the potential to save and improve lives.

New anti-rejection drugs and protocols

Drug side-effects can be avoided and patients who may not have been candidates in the past can receive transplants.

New tools and procedures

Robotic and minimally invasive methods allow surgeons to perform surgeries that would have been impossible in the past.

New transplant options

Surgeons are now able to take on transplants such as hand, face and larynx-trachea while using new technologies to optimize results.

New ways to perform multi-organ transplants

Ability to reduce rejection rates by using a liver-transplanted-first approach in liver/kidney and liver/heart transplants.

Regenerative medicine therapies

Using the body's own cells to grow tissue and bypass the need for anti-rejection drugs.