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What Organs Can You Live Without?

Posted by Reliant Renal Care

Did you know that humans have the ability live with only one lung? When one lung is removed, the remaining lung is still able to inflate and fill the extra space inside of your chest. Living with one lung doesn’t usually affect everyday tasks or life expectancy, however, a person with one lung would not be able to exercise as energetically as a healthy person with two lungs.

Although you’d probably like to keep all your organs if you can, here are others you can live without:

Kidney: As you probably know, humans have two kidneys, but need only one to live. Infants may be born with just one kidney, and adults may have a kidney removed due to injury or donation. In general, people with one kidney have few or no health problems, and have an average life expectancy, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Technically, people can live with no kidneys, but require dialysis.

Spleen: The spleen filters blood and assists the body in fighting bad bacterial infections, but it’s inessential for survival. The spleen can be removed if, for example, if it’s damaged. However, people without a spleen are more disposed to infections.

Reproductive organs: Women can have their uterus surgically removed in a hysterectomy as a treatment for cancer, fibroids, chronic pelvic pain, and other illnesses. About 33% of women in the U.S. have had the procedure by age 60, according to the National Institutes of Health. In comparison, men may have their testicles removed as a treatment for testicular cancer.

Stomach: The entire stomach is sometimes removed as a treatment for stomach cancer, a procedure called a total gastrectomy. In this procedure, the small intestine is joined to the esophagus. People who have undergone this surgery absorb nutrition through a vein for a few weeks while they recover. After that, they are able to consume most foods, but may need to eat smaller meals, and take dietary supplements if they have problems absorbing vitamins.

Colon: People may have their colon removed as a way to treat colon cancer or Crohn’s disease, or in some cases, to avert colon cancer. People can live without a colon, but may need to wear a bag outside their body to gather stool. However, surgery can be performed to create a pouch in the small intestine that takes the place in the colon. In this case, wearing a bag is not necessary, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Appendix: The appendix is a small, tube-shaped organ that juts out from the first part of the large intestine. It’s unclear what its function is, but it can be removed if it becomes inflamed or ruptures.

How Can We Help?

Due to our size and structure, we are able to provide more personable and reliable care to our patients. If you are interested in learning more about kidney disease, the way it can have an impact on your life, treatment options, or how our care plans can help one of your loved ones, feel free to contact us at any time.