Transplant surgery and protection - possible?

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All is not lost in the search for cover post transplant, as Livi Jenkinson explains, times have changed.

Obtaining life insurance after a transplant can often seem impossible. Yet, at a time when organ donation is becoming more common place – the NHS announced recently that organ donation has increased by 50% in the last five years – this perception is thankfully without foundation.

Through the use of specialist underwriters, who keep up-to-date with medical advances in transplantation and the steady improvements in life expectancy of organ recipients, life insurance can be offered to those who both donate and receive organs.

Medical procedures and techniques for transplanting organs continue to advance. For example, a kidney can be removed from a living organ donor for transplantation using a technique known as the “laparoscopic hand assisted technique”.

The surgeon makes an incision of about three to four inches on the left side of the donor’s abdomen. Using a laparoscope and two fingers, the surgeon then proceeds to remove the kidney.

Amazingly, the whole procedure can take as little as one hour – far less time than traditional open surgery – and, because it is much less invasive, it means that the donor experiences much less post-operative pain and recovers more quickly.

The donor usually leaves hospital in about three days and can become reasonably active in three to four weeks and fully active in three months.

Of particular note for the insurance industry is that life expectancy of an organ donor is no worse than the average population. In fact, statistics suggest that people who donate organs have a higher life expectancy than most.

In living donation cases, the recipient of the donated kidney will have been anaesthetised while the donation procedure is under way, so that the new kidney can be transplanted as rapidly as possible.

The time between removal and insertion can be as little as one hour and the donated kidney is kept on ice until the recipient is ready.

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