Glossary

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Anemic
Low red blood cell count.

Anesthetic
A medication that reduces pain by dulling sensation.

Antacid
A drug that aids in protecting the digestive system and relieves heartburn and digestive discomfort.

Antibody
A protein produced by the body to eliminate foreign substances, such as bacteria.

Antigen
A foreign molecule or substance, such as a transplant, that triggers an immune response. This response may be the production of antibodies, which, in turn, try to inactivate or destroy the antigen (transplanted organ).

Arteriogram (angiogram)
An x-ray of the arteries taken with the aid of a dye.

Atherectomy
A non-surgical procedure that opens blocked coronary arteries or vein grafts using a device on the end of a catheter to cut or shave away atherosclerotic plaque.

Atherosclerosis
A buildup of fats in the lining of the arteries that may interfere with the flow of blood.

B Cell
A specialized white blood cell responsible for the body’s immunity. B cells play a central role in antibody production.

Bacteria
Small organisms (germs) that can cause disease.

Balloon Angioplasty
A procedure using a catheter with a balloon at the tip that is inserted into an artery narrowed by fatty deposits. When the ballon is inflated, the artery is widened and the blockage is cleared.

Bioavailability
A measure of how much of an administered drug is absorbed into the bloodstream, actually reaching the intended site of action in the body.

Brain Death
When the brain has permanently stopped working, as determined by a neurological surgeon, artificial support systems may maintain functions such as heartbeat and respiration for a few days.

Cadaveric Donor
An individual who has recently died of causes that do not affect the function of an organ to be transplanted. Either the person or the person’s family has generously offered organs and/or tissues for transplantation.

Carotid Artery Stenting
A procedure during which a catheter is used to unblock a narrowed carotid artery to prevent a stroke.

Cellcept®
An immunosuppressive drug used with other immunosuppressants to prevent the rejection of the transplanted organ. Also known by its chemical name, myophenolate mofetil.

Cholesterol
A form of fat that performs necessary functions in the body but can also cause heart disease; cholesterol is found in animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.

Coagulation
Blood clotting.

Crossmatch
A test in which donor and recipient blood samples are mixed together. A “positive” crossmatch shows the donor and recipient are incompatible. A “negative” crossmatch shows there is no reaction between the donor and the recipient. This means that the donor and recipient are compatible and the transplant may proceed.

CMV (Cytomegalovirus)
A virus infection that is very common in transplant recipients; it can affect the lungs and other organs as well; a member of the family of herpes viruses.

Deep Vein Thrombosis
The formation of a blood clot in a deep vein within the body, such as internal jugular veins, the radial veins in the arms or the femoral veins in the legs.

Detoxify
To change a harmful substance into a safer form.

Diabetes
A condition in which an insufficient amount of insulin is produced by the pancreas, resulting in high levels of glucose in the blood.

Diagnostic Angiography
An x-ray examination of the blood vessels made possible by an injection of a radiopaque substance— a substance that provides contrast in the x-ray image so that the blood vessels are more visible.

Diagnostic Venography
An x-ray examination of the leg veins made possible by an injection of a radiopaque substance— a substance that provides contrast in the x-ray image so that the leg veins are more visible.

Diastolic
The bottom of two blood pressure numbers, which measures blood pressure when the heart is at rest.

Edema
Excess fluid in body tissues; swelling of the ankles, for example, is a sign of edema.

Electrocardiogram
A recording of the electrical activity of the heart.

Electrolyte
Generally refers to the dissolved form of a mineral such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, chlorine, etc.

Embolization
A procedure that prevents or stops hemorrhage by inserting an object such as a balloon into a blood vessel to block the flow of blood.

Endograft
A metallic stent covered in fabric that is placed inside an aneurysm to prevent rupture.

Enzyme
A protein made in the body and capable of changing a substance from one form to another.

Glucose
A type of sugar found in the blood.

Graft
An organ or tissue that is transplanted.

Graft Survival
When a transplanted tissue or organ is accepted by the body and functions properly. The potential for graft survival is increased when the recipient and donor are closely matched, and when immunosuppressive therapy is used.

Heart
The heart is a myogenic muscular organ that is responsible for pumping blood throughout the blood vessels by repeated, rhythmic contractions.

Helper T Cell
The specialized white blood cell that tells other parts of the immune system to combat infection or foreign material.

Hematocrit
A measure of the red-blood-cell content of blood.

Hemorrhage
Excessive bleeding from a blood vessel.

Hirsutism
An excessive increase in hair growth – especially male-pattern hair growth in a female. Hirsutism is a common side effect of corticosteroids and can also occur with cyclosporine therapy, but is easily treated with depilatory creams or other methods of hair removal.

Hypertension
High blood pressure.

Immune Response
Any defensive reaction to foreign material by the immune system.

Immune System
The system that protects the body from invasion by foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses, and from cancer cells.

Immunity
A condition of being able to resist a particular infectious disease.

Immunosuppression
Prevention or suppression of immune response. Transplant patients receive immunosuppressive drugs in order to prevent rejection.

Immunosuppressive Agents
Medications given to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ.

Imuran®
An immunosuppressive drug used with other immunosuppressive drugs to help prevent the rejection of a transplanted organ. Also known by its chemical name, azathioprine.

Incompatible
No likeness or similarity between donor or recipient blood type or organs.

Indiana Organ Procurement Organization (IOPO)
IOPO serves as the integral link between the potential donor and recipient and is accountable for the retrieval, preservation and transportation of organs for transplantation. IOPO is an UNOS members as are all Organ Procurement Organizations.

Inferior Vena Cava
A large vein that carries de-oxygenated blood from the lower body to the right atrium of your heart.

IV Catheter
A small needle with a hollow tube inserted into a vein and used to give medicines or fluids.

IV or Intravenous
Refers to giving medicines or fluids directly through a vein.

Match
The compatibility between recipient and donor. In general, the more closely the donor and recipient “match”, the greater the potential for a successful transplant.

Neutrophil
A type of white blood cell.

Noncompliance
Failure to follow the instructions of one’s health care providers, such as not taking medicine as prescribed or not showing up for clinic visits.

Orally
By mouth.

Organ Preservation
Between organ procurement and transplant, organs require special methods of preservation to keep them viable. The length of time that organs and tissues can be kept outside the body varies, depending on the organ, the preservation fluid and the temperature.

Organ Rejection
An attempt by the immune system to reject or destroy what it recognizes to be a “foreign” presence.

Panel Reactive Antibody (PRA)
A way of measuring immune system activity within the body. PRA is higher when more antibodies are being made.

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS)
A condition associated with chronic pelvic pain near the lower abdomen that is most common in women. It’s believed that PCS is caused by varicose veins—veins with defective valves that cause blood to flow backward and accumulate—that often develop during pregnancy.

Plaque
A deposit of fat and other substances that accumulate in the lining of the artery wall.

Platelet
A small blood cell needed for normal blood clotting.

Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia (PCP)
A type of pneumonia seen primarily in patients whose immune systems are suppressed.

Potassium
A mineral essential for body function.

Prednisone
A manufactured steroid hormone taken by most transplant recipients to help prevent rejections medication that helps prevent disease.

Pulmonary Arteriogram
An x-ray examination of the lungs that uses a catheter inserted into a vein, through the heart, and into the pulmonary artery to assess blood circulation to the lungs.

Rejection
An immune response against grafted tissue, which, if not successfully treated, results in failure of the graft to survive.

Retransplantation
Due to organ rejection or transplant failure, some patients need another transplant and return to the waiting list. Reducing the number of retransplants is critical when examining ways to maximize a limited supply of donor organs.

Sandimmune® (cyclosporin)
An earlier formulation of cyclosporine. An immunosuppressive drug used with other immunosuppressive drugs, that acts specifically to inhibit helper T cells, thereby helping prevent the rejection of a transplanted organ. Sandimmune and Neoral are not bioequivalent and cannot be used interchangeably without physician supervision.

Sensitized
Being immunized, or able to mount an immune response, against an antigen by previous exposure to that antigen.

Sodium
A component of table salt (sodium chloride); an electrolyte that is the main salt in blood.

Status
Indicates the degree of medical urgency for patients awaiting transplants.

Stent
A plastic or metal tube used to prevent blood vessels from closing.

Stricture or Stenosis
A narrowing of passage in the body.

Survival Rates
Survival rates indicate how many patients or grafts (transplanted organs) are alive/functioning at a set time post-transplant. Survival rates are often given at one, three and five years. Policy modifications are never made without examining their impact on transplant survival rates. Survival rates improve with technological and scientific advances. Developing policies that reflect and respond to these advances in transplantation will also improve survival rates.

Systolic
The top of the two blood pressure numbers, which measures the maximum blood pressure reached as blood is pumped out of the heart chambers.

T Cells
A white blood cell responsible for the body’s immunity. T cells can destroy cells infected by viruses, graft cells, and other altered cells.

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm
A weakened and often bulging area in the upper part of the aorta—a major blood vessel that supplies blood to the body—that is at risk of rupturing and causing life-threatening bleeding.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
A condition in which blood vessels and nerves coming from the spine or major blood vessels of the body that pass through a narrow space near the shoulder and collarbone on their way to the arms don’t have enough space. Pressure on these blood vessels and nerves can cause pain in the neck and shoulder, numbness in the fingers, and a weak grip.

Thrombolysis
The breakdown of blood clots with the use of medication.

Tissue Typing
A blood test (performed prior to transplantation) to evaluate the closeness of tissue match between donor’s organ and recipient’s HLA antigens.

Triglycerides
A form of fat that the body makes from sugar, alcohol, and excess calories.

Vena Cava Filter
A device placed in the inferior vena cava — the large vein that carries de-oxygenated blood from the lower body to the right atrium of the heart — in the abdomen that traps blood clots and prevents them from reaching the lungs.

Venous Sampling
A procedure in which a sample of blood is taken from a vein and examined for substances released by nearby tissues and organs to help determine if said tissues or organs are suffering from disease.

Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)
A mechanical pump used for blood circulation support. It decreases the workload of the heart while maintaining adequate flow and blood pressure.

Vertebral Arteries
The main arteries of the neck.

Virus
A very small agent (germ) that causes infection.

Waiting List
After evaluation by the transplant physician, a patient is added to the national waiting list by the transplant center. Lists are specific to both geographic area and organ type: heart, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas, intestine, heart-lung, kidney-pancreas. Each time a donor organ becomes available, the UNOS computer generates a list of potential recipients based on factors that include genetic similarity, organ size, medical urgency and time on the waiting list. Through this process, a “new” list is generated each time an organ becomes available.

White Blood Cells
Cells in the blood that fight infection; part of the immune system.