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By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 23 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss

Going abroad for organ transplants is not a decision that should or can be, taken lightly. A lot of consideration, research, and consultations from doctors, both home and abroad will be required. Initially, the lower costs and the decreased waiting times for operations may be major reasons why thousands of people travel abroad for this type of major surgery. However, an end to unneeded pain and suffering by going abroad will also be a deciding factor.

Thousands of people the world over are waiting for some form of organ transplant surgery. The demand for this type of operation far outweighs the supply of organs from donors, which means that waiting lists are getting longer and longer. Even private hospital treatments do not guarantee shorter waiting lists; organ suitability and donor/patient matches still have to be taken into account for some operations.

Cost of Organ Transplants Abroad

The price of an organ transplant operation in a private hospital can also be prohibitive to a large majority of patients. Much reduced prices in various countries abroad have seen increased numbers of patients flying abroad. India and China have very low reported prices for transplant operations compared to the rest of the world.

Kidney donors in poorer countries are plentiful; a person can live with only one kidney and the prices paid to the donors are a lot compared to the wages they earn. For this reason a lot of ethical concerns have been raised regarding donors in poorer countries. There has also been a tougher crackdown on organ transport laws as the supply and demand ratio becomes increasingly unequal.

Medical Service Providers

If you are considering an organ transplant abroad, you will no doubt be using a medical service provider. This is a company who will be able to arrange all transport, accommodation and surgery options that will be available to you. A good medical service provider will answer any questions you have on your surgery, and you should also raise any ethical issues or questions about the country you are intending to use.

A reputable medical service provider will answer as many questions as needed to allay any fears or doubts you may have. Due to the seriousness of the surgery involved you should also ask to have consultations with the surgeon before you actually travel to your intended country. Many surgeons from abroad will hold consultations in the UK, usually in London, and it would be wise to make the trip for these consultations.


As with any invasive surgical procedures there are risks to be taken into account, but compared to many forms of surgery, organ transplant surgery does carry its own serious risks. Organ rejection is a major risk and there is the risk of infection during and after the operation. All of these concerns should be broached with your own doctor and the surgeon abroad, who will advise on the risks of the operation you are intending.

Types of Transplant Surgery


It is estimated that around 2500 people in the UK have chronic kidney failure each year. For this reason waiting lists are becoming longer and the time for some patients receiving dialysis can be around two years of longer. The operation itself is uncomplicated, and successful surgery rates are high. Risks may include kidney rejection, and viral and blood infections.


Liver transplant operations are not as straightforward as kidney transplants; surgeons do not have dialysis to fall back on. However there is less chance of rejection with liver transplants than with kidney transplants. A liver transplant operation is a very complicated and detailed surgery, which will last for around six hours. Intensive care will be needed after the operation and a long recover period will be needed. The survival rate is about 75% in the first year.

Bone Marrow Transplants

Bone marrow transplant surgery will be needed when stem cells inside certain bones produce too few, too many, or irregular blood cells. This condition can be caused by other diseases or certain medical treatments, and can be fatal. Bone marrow transplants require multiple operations and many pre operative tests. Due to the reduction in the body’s immune system, the patient will need to spend several observational weeks in hospital, and a large amount of after care will be needed.

These are some of the common organ transplants, and there will be variations on every transplant procedure. Other operations can include the heart, lungs, spleen and corneal treatments.

Countries that perform these transplants are far ranging. In Europe, some of the best and most advanced clinics can be found in Germany, Italy, Norway, France, Croatia and Hungary. You can also venture farther abroad to South Africa, India and South America; your medical service provider will be able to provide a full list for your consideration.

If you are considering organ transplants abroad your biggest asset will be research and referral from reputable sources. Many people from Britain have travelled abroad for this type of surgery, and the success rates have been favourable. With long waiting lists in the UK, going abroad for surgery may be the only option left for sufferers awaiting surgery.

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