What organs can’t be transplanted? What organ has the highest rejection rate?

By | November 30, 2016

Organ transplants are commonly used as devices in film and television to create tension or humor. A dying patient desperately needs an organ transplant in order to survive. There’s a zany mix up and, somehow, Mr. Johnson’s heart transplant ends up in someone’s ham sandwich. As much as organ transplants are a basic staple of our entertainment culture, I don’t really know that much about them. Like which organs can’t be transplanted? What organ has the highest rejection rate? Rather than list which ones can’t be transplanted, it may be quicker to define which organs can be transplanted:

  • heart
  • lungs
  • liver
  • intestine
  • kidneys
  • pancreas
  • stomach
  • thymus
  • testis

The following is a table of rejection rates for each organ:

1 year 2 year 5 year
Thymus 27.00%
Liver 24.00%
Lungs 22.00%
Intestine 15.00%
Kidneys 4.00% 21.00%
Heart 10.00%
Pancreas 9.00%
Oddly, I could not find any information on the rejection rates for the stomach or testis. Apparently, stomach transplants aren’t usually done because you can live without a stomach.
In the 70’s, there were a pair of twins; one born with no testicles, the other born with two sets of testicles. They transplanted the extra pair of testicles  into the one with no testicles and they functioned perfectly.
Non-organs can be transplanted as well. (Hands, skin, corneas,  etc.) Interestingly, the first recipient of a hand transplant was unable to move the hand for two years and, eventually, the new hand was amputated.

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