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Although varying greatly in course and outcome, these diseases may lead to organ failure and transplant:


Unlike heart disease due to heart attacks, where there is a problem with adequate blood flow to the heart, cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle itself.

There are many causes of cardiomyopathy, which may include coronary artery disease and heart valve disease.

Cardiomyopathy occurs in three major types–dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive–all of which affect your heart’s ability to pump blood and deliver it to the rest of your body.


Cirrhosis refers to scarring of the liver. Scar tissue forms because of injury or long-term disease. It replaces healthy tissue.

Scar tissue cannot do what healthy liver tissue does–make protein, help fight infections, clean the blood, help digest food, and store energy for when you need it. Scar tissue also blocks the normal flow of blood through the liver.

Your symptoms, a physical examination, and certain tests can help your doctor diagnose cirrhosis. A liver biopsy will confirm the diagnosis.

COPD - Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a slowly progressive disease of the airways that is characterized by a gradual loss of lung function. The term COPD is used to describe two related lung diseases: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis is inflammation and eventual scarring of the bronchi (airway tubes). Emphysema is enlargement and destruction of the alveoli (air sacs) within the lungs. Many persons with COPD have both of these conditions.

The symptoms of COPD can range from chronic cough and sputum productions to severe shortness of breath.

The diagnosis of COPD is confirmed by the presence of airway obstruction during spirometry testing.

Coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease, also commonly called coronary artery disease, is a narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the arteries that provide the heart muscle with blood.

The disease occurs when these arteries become hardened and narrowed. The arteries harden and narrow due to buildup of a material called plaque on their inner walls. The buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis.

As the plaque increases in size, the insides of the coronary arteries get narrower and less blood can flow through them. Eventually, blood flow to the heart muscle is reduced, and, because blood carries much-needed oxygen, the heart muscle is not able to receive the amount of oxygen it needs.

Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening disorder that causes severe lung damage and nutritional deficiencies.

An inherited disease, cystic fibrosis affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat, saliva and digestive juices. Normally, these secretions are thin and slippery, but in cystic fibrosis, a defective gene causes the secretions to become thick and sticky. Instead of acting as a lubricant, the secretions plug up tubes, ducts and passageways, especially in the pancreas and lungs.

Respiratory failure is the most dangerous consequence of cystic fibrosis. Also, the secretions block pancreatic enzymes that help digest fats and proteins, and they prevent your body from absorbing key vitamins.


Diabetes is a life-long disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, usually diagnosed in children and young adults, is an autoimmune disease (a disease that results when the body’s system for fighting infection turns against a part of the body) in which the body does not produce insulin. Therefore, a person who has type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to live.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes usually develop over a short period. Symptoms include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision and extreme fatigue. If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, a person with type 1 diabetes can lapse into a life-threatening diabetic coma, also known as diabetic ketoacidosis.

Type 2 Diabetes

Typically occurring in adulthood, type 2 diabetes is the most common form. About 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2. This form of diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, previous history of gestational diabetes, physical inactivity, and ethnicity.

When type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, the pancreas is usually producing enough insulin, but for unknown reasons, the body cannot use the insulin effectively, a condition called insulin resistance. After several years, insulin production decreases. The result is the same as for type 1 diabetes-glucose builds up in the blood and the body cannot make efficient use of its main source of fuel.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop gradually. Symptoms may include fatigue or nausea, frequent urination, unusual thirst, weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infections and slow healing of wounds or sores. Some people do not have any symptoms.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes develops only during pregnancy. Like type 2 diabetes, it occurs more often in African Americans, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, and among women with a family history of diabetes. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 20 to 50 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years.


Hepatitis is defined as inflammation of the liver. It is characterized by the destruction of a number of liver cells and the presence of inflammatory cells in the liver tissue.

Hepatitis can be divided into two subgroups according to its duration:

acute hepatitis – lasting less than six months
chronic hepatitis – lasting longer than six months

Hepatitis C is a blood-born infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), one of the most important causes of chronic liver disease in the United States. Unrelated to any of the other known hepatitis viruses (A, B, D and E), Hepatitis C causes damage to the liver that may lead to permanent liver damage as well as cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.

Chronic hepatitis C varies greatly in its course and outcome, and is spread primarily by contact with blood and blood products.


Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. Normally a person’s blood pressure rises and falls during the day. However, when blood pressure constantly stays higher than normal, a person is considered to have hypertension.

Because hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels and filters in the kidney, it is a leading cause and consequence of kidney disease.

Kidney failure in patients with hypertension has many causes, including hypertensive nephrosclerosis.

IPF - Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a debilitating disease characterized by scarring or thickening of tissues deep in the lung.

IPF belongs to a family of approximately 200 related diseases, called interstitial lung diseases (ILDs), that have similar characteristics and can result in scarring.

IPF gradually interferes with a person’s ability to breathe. It causes shortness of breath and is usually associated with a dry cough. The disease progresses over time, leading to an increase in lung scarring and a worsening of symptoms.

Polycystic kidneys

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited kidney disorder that enlarges the kidneys and interferes with kidney function due to multiple cysts on the kidneys.

In early stages of the disease, the cysts enlarge the kidney and interfere with kidney function, resulting in chronic high blood pressure and kidney infections. The cysts may cause the kidneys to increase production of erythropoietin (the hormone that stimulates production of red blood cells) resulting in too many red blood cells, rather than the expected anemia of chronic kidney disease.

The disease progresses slowly, ultimately causing end-stage kidney disease in which dialysis and transplantation are the only forms of treatment.

PKD comes in two forms. Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD) is the most common, affecting 1-in-400 to 1-in-500 adults. Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD) is far less common, affecting 1-in-10,000 at a far younger age, including newborns, infants and children.

Short gut syndrome

Short gut syndrome, also known as short bowel syndrome, is condition of nutritional malabsorption related to the surgical removal or disease of a large portion of the small intestine.

In healthy adults, the small intestine has an average length of approximately twenty feet. Short bowel syndrome usually appears when there is less than six feet of the small intestine left to absorb sufficient nutrients.

Did you know?

There are multiple steps in the transplant process:

  • You are evaluated for a transplant by the medical team at a transplant center.
  • If accepted as a transplant candidate, you are registered on the national organ transplant waiting list. A living donor may also be identified and evaluated for living donation.
  • You begin organizing your support system.
  • You begin developing your financial strategy.
  • Your waiting period begins.
  • Your transplant takes place.
  • Your medical team manages your posttransplant care.

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