Antibody - A protein substance made by the bodys immune system in response to a foreign substance, for example a previous transplant, blood transfusion or pregnancy. Because the antibodies attack the transplanted organ transplant patients must take powerful immunosuppressive drugs.
Cross-match - A test for patient antibodies against donor antigens. A positive cross-match shows that the donor and patient are incompatible. A negative cross-match means there is no reaction between donor and patient and that the transplant may proceed.
Histocompatibility Antigens - Molecules found on all nucleated cells in the body that characterize each individual as unique. These antigens are inherited from ones parents. Human leukocyte antigens determine the compatibility of tissues for transplantation from one individual to another.
HLA System - Human Leukocyte Antigens. There are three major genetically controlled groups HLA-A, HLA-B and HLA-DR. In transplantation, the HLA tissue types of the donor and recipient are taken into consideration in matching. See Tissue Typing.
Immunosuppression - The artificial suppression of the immune response, usually through drugs, so that the body will not reject a transplanted organ or tissue. Drugs commonly used to suppress the immune system after transplant include prednisone, azathioprine (Imuran), cyclosporin, OKT3 and ALG.
Organ Preservation - Between procurement from a donor and transplant, organs require special methods of preservation. The length of time that organs and tissues can be kept outside the body vary, depending on the organ, the preservation fluid and the temperature.
Survival Rates - Survival rates indicate the percentage of patients or grafts (transplanted organs) that are still alive/functioning at a certain point post transplant. Survival rates are often given at one-, three-, and five-year increments.
Transplant List - After evaluation a patient is added to the national transplant list by the transplant centre. When a donor organ becomes available, the computer generates a list of potential recipients based on factors identified within the organ allocation schemes.
Waiting List - What is now known as the Transplant List
Xenotransplantation - Transplantation of the [genetically modified] organs of one species into another. Although xenotransplantation is an experimental procedure, many scientists view it as an eventual solution to the critical shortage of human organs.