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What is Autotransplantation?

By Bobbie Fredericks
Updated Feb 27, 2024
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Autotransplantation is a transplant in which the donor is also the recipient. A transplant from someone else is called an allotransplantaion. The most common form of autotransplantation is a skin graft. The banking of blood to be used by the same person at a later date is also fairly common.

The first human autotransplantation was a skin graft done in 1823. Since then, there have been many experimental autotransplants done. Autotransplantation has the possibility to treat many diseases, conditions and injuries.

In some cases of heart surgery, parts of the heart need to be patched with tissue from another part. This often necessitates restructure of the heart. Tumors and congenital defects of the heart are the most common reasons for heart surgery of this type.

Autotransplanting veins is a common procedure. Bypass surgery of the heart is one instance of venous auto transplant. It might also be used to replace part of a damaged vein, such as in the case of an aneurysm.

Cord blood banking is done in case the baby should develop a disease later in life that can be treated using the stem cells found in the blood. One such disease is Hodgkins lymphoma. This kind of autotransplant procedure has shown to be effective in treating diseases of the blood and bone marrow.

Autotransplantation of the teeth also might be useful. If a tooth is knocked out, one can be moved from another location to take its place. The main concern with this is proper alignment of the bite after surgery. Dental autotransplantation can also be used to fill gaps left by congenitally absent teeth that cause problems with bite.

The main benefit of autotransplantation over allotransplantation is the easy acceptance. There is no need for immunosuppressants, which must be taken for life in the case of allotranplants. Even if a donor and recipient are a good match, tissue rejection might occur. Blood banking before surgery is often done by people who have particularly rare blood types and who might not otherwise find a matching donor. There also is no chance of the donor tissue becoming infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis because of the transplant surgery.

The major risk of autotransplantation is infection. Infection is a risk with any surgery, and the risks with autotransplantation are slightly lower because the tissue is not coming from an anonymous donor. Another less common risk has to do with the body taking up the tissue. Sometimes the blood vessels might not join with the new tissue. In this case, the procedure must be repeated. In general, the risks of autotransplantation are low, and the outcomes are good.

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