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What Is a Homograft?

A homograft may include a transplant of skin tissue, as is necessary for burn victims.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2014
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Also known as allografts, homografts are surgical procedures that involve the use of organs or sections of tissue harvested from donors in order to treat an injured human being. The harvested tissue is transplanted to recipients of the same species, but with different genetic make-ups. A graft of this type may be a temporary measure, or be used as a permanent solution. In both scenarios, the use of immuno-suppressant drugs is necessary to prevent the recipient’s body from rejecting the transplant.

One common example involves the use of tissue that is harvested from a human cadaver. The heart, lungs, or one or both kidneys can be removed and transplanted into a living human being shortly after the harvesting. Since both the deceased and the recipient are members of the same species, the chances for a successful transplant are very high. At the same time, the recipient must take medication to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ or organs for the rest of his or her life.

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A homograft sometimes involves the use of harvested skin tissue. This type of transplant is sometimes used with burn victims or people undergoing reconstructive surgery after an accident. The procedure is common when the degree of damage is so severe that harvesting skin from elsewhere on the patient’s body is not possible. Over time, the harvested skin takes to the new host and goes through the normal process of shedding old skin cells while producing new ones. The recipient will still have to take medication to prevent a rejection of the grafted tissue.

There are many different types of tissue and organs that can be transplanted. Along with the entire heart, it is possible to undergo a heart valve replacement, or to experience some other form of pulmonary homograft. Corneas can also be transplanted in this manner, as well as bones and even bone marrow. Portions of the knee or ankle may be harvested from a donor and used to repair damage sustained by the recipient.

In general, this type of transplant has a greater chance of success than a xenograft, which is a transplant of tissue or organs from a similar species. This approach is also a viable alternative to the use of synthetic tissue or motorized organs, an option that also carries an increased chance of failure. While it is necessary to take medication in order to prevent the body from rejecting the transplanted tissue or organ, recipients are often able to enjoy full and active lives for many years after undergoing a procedure of this type.

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