A bowel transplant is possible

The small intestine transplant

Short bowel disease (short bowel syndrome) are the most common reasons for a small bowel transplant. In short bowel diseases, the small intestine is severely shortened. As a result, food intake is disturbed, so that the body does not get enough nutrients, vitamins and fluids. There are several causes of short bowel disease. They can be the removal of parts of the small intestine through surgery for inflammatory bowel diseases (such as Crohn's disease) or the death of parts of the small intestine in circulatory disorders. The transplantation of a donated small intestine is then the only remaining therapy.

As a rule, more donor organs are needed than are donated. This means that people who need a donor organ have to be put on a waiting list for that organ. In order to be placed on the waiting list for a small intestine transplant, patients must be dependent on artificial nutrition through continuous infusion (parenteral nutrition) for life. Necessary nutrients are fed directly into the bloodstream.

Various diseases can make such artificial nutrition necessary:

  • Short bowel syndrome,
  • functional disorders of the small intestine,
  • Tumors,
  • Inflammation of the bowel after radiation treatment (radiation enteritis).

It is not uncommon for life-threatening secondary diseases such as vascular obstruction, infections, kidney or gallstones and severe liver damage to occur after prolonged artificial nutrition. Often times, people waiting for a small intestine transplant are dependent on additional organs to be transplanted.