Causes leading to a transplant

When a medical treatment is no longer enough to keep an organ functioning correctly, a transplant may be necessary. The causes vary in relation to the organ concerned.


For heart transplants, there are 2 main cases:

- Patients with heart disease, and those with severe, irreversible, life-threatening heart failure, are the top priority for heart transplants. In many cases, it is the only solution. 

- For patients who have had cancer and undergone regular chemotherapy, it is not uncommon for their heart to be weakened and unable to correctly perform its pump function. A heart transplant is thus recommended.

In the second case, certain conditions must nevertheless be met, in particular remission of 5 years for a recent case of cancer. For an older case of cancer, a detailed work-up will be carried out before considering a heart transplant. The reason for this is that with older cases, there is an associated risk of relapse. These precautions result in a transplant success rate comparable with that of patients who have not had cancer.


There can be several reasons for performing a lung transplant. Illnesses that lead to the obstruction of the respiratory tract, frequently associated with smoking tobacco, as well as pulmonary fibrosis or cystic fibrosis are the main causes. It should be noted that for patients with cystic fibrosis, a lung transplant is the only means of survival when the illness has reached its critical level.

Liver transplants are for patients with terminal stage liver failure. A liver transplant occurs in chronic illnesses such as cirrhosis, or acute illnesses such as fulminant hepatitis.

Liver cancer is also the cause of a liver transplant in one third of cases.

A kidney transplant is necessary in cases of kidney failure, or when the kidney is totally defective (terminal stage of kidney failure).

Sources: Agence de Biomédecine

For further information:

Last updated: 11/12/2019

avatar Carenity Editorial Team

Author: Carenity Editorial Team, Editorial Team

The Carenity Editorial Team is made up of experienced editors and specialists in the healthcare field who aim to provide impartial and high quality information. Our editorial content is proofread, edited and... >> Learn more