The 25 feet of intestine resting below the stomach is responsible for moving food through the digestive system while extracting fluids and nutrients vital to the body. When the intestine is not functioning properly, dehydration, infection, fatigue and even malnutrition or starvation can occur. The primary cause of intestine transplants is Short Bowel Syndrome, a condition where the intestine fails to properly absorb nutrients due to disease or surgical removal.
Intestine transplants are most common among infants and children under age five who are born with certain intestinal disorders. Only about half of patients on the intestine donation waiting list each year will receive a transplant. Without a transplant, many patients cannot eat solid foods or live a normal life. The gift of an intestine donation has the potential to restore a recipient's capacity to thrive physically and emotionally.