Glossary

Berlin Heart
This is a mechanical device used for children whose hearts are no longer strong enough to pump enough blood around their bodies due to conditions such as a weak heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) or an infected heart muscle (myocarditis). It allows more time for the child to reach transplant or, in a small percentage of children, to recover. Unfortunately not all children with heart problems are suitable to be supported with this kind of device.
Biopsy
Where a sample of tissue is removed and examined for signs of disease or rejection.
Cardiomyopathy
Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. There are different types, the three main ones being: hypertrophic, dilated and arrhythmogenic right ventricular. It is often inherited genetically and can affect people of any age. For more information visit: http://www.cardiomyopathy.org
Cirrhosis
A disease which causes liver tissue to become scarred which prevents it from functioning properly. It can be caused by poor nutrition, an infection or damage caused by alcohol abuse.
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
This is a term used to cover a number of diseases such as Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis. It describes conditions which cause the airways to become progressively damaged, making breathing increasingly harder over time.
Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetically inherited disease which affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food. For more information visit: http://www.cftrust.org.uk
Dialysis
Dialysis is a method of cleaning the blood, which should be the job of the kidneys. There are two main types: haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, both of which are explained further on in this glossary.
ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation)
Machine used for critically ill patients. It assists the work of a failing heart or lungs by pumping continuously, removing blood from the body, extracting carbon dioxide, adding oxygen and then recirculating it. A person can survive on ECMO for a limited period, usually only a matter of weeks.
Fistula
A fistula is created by connecting an artery directly to a vein, usually in the arm of a patient. This causes more blood to flow into the vein, making it larger and stronger, which allows easier access for dialysis.
Haemodialysis
Haemodialysis involves being attached to a machine which filters blood out of the body through a tube, removes waste products and toxins and then feeds it back into the body. Patients on dialysis often require three to four sessions a week, each lasting around four hours.
Hepatitis
This is a viral infection, or inflammation of the liver, that can lead to liver failure. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver failure that leads to a transplant being needed.
Immunosupressants
Medication used to prevent the patient's immune system from detecting - and consequently rejecting - the transplanted organ. These include: Prednisone, Methylprednisolone, Azathioprine, Mycophenolate Mofetil, Cyclosporin and Tacrolimus.
Intravenous antibiotics (IVs)
These are antibiotics which are given via injection or slow infusion directly into the vein. They are used to treat more severe infections.
LAM (Lymphangioleiomyomatosis)
This rare disease predominantly affects women in their 30s and 40s. LAM causes abnormal cell growth, which can damage normal lung tissue and cause repeated pneumothoraxes (lung collapses). For more information visit: http://lamaction.org.uk/.
LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device)
This is a type of mechanical heart that assists with pumping blood around the body. It can help prolong the life of someone waiting for a heart transplant.
NHSBT (NHS Blood and Transplant)
This is a special health authority within the NHS responsible for optimising the supply of blood, organs, and tissues for donation and raising the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of blood and transplant services.
ODTF (Organ Donation Taskforce)
The ODTF was established in 2006 and consists of people affected by organ donation on a personal or a professional level. It was established to take a detailed look at organ donation in the UK and to create a report with suggestions on how to improve the situation. You can read their report here.
Perfusion Machine
These machines are used to keep donated organs viable for transplant by continuously supplying them with a solution to prevent deterioration of function. We recently funded research on the use of perfusion machines, which you can read about here.
Peritoneal Dialysis
The peritoneum is a thin lining inside the abdomen that surrounds the abdominal organs. During peritoneal dialysis, a small tube is inserted and fluid is pumped into the surrounding space. Waste products are moved out of the blood and into the dialysis fluid, which is then drained. The process can be done overnight, or in shorter sessions several times a day.
Portacath
A portacath is an implantable access device. It is has a port which is placed under the skin and has a tube which runs from the port directly into a vein. This allows quick and easy venous access and is used on many patient groups, including those who require regular intravenous antibiotics.
Rejection
Rejection occurs when the body's immune system recognises a transplanted organ as a foreign body and begins to attack it.
Renal
The word “renal” refers to the kidneys.
Steroids
Steroids occur in the body naturally; however a man-made version is often taken by transplant patients to suppress their immune system.