Question Video: Applying Knowledge of Mitosis to Liver Transplants Science

If a person is suffering from liver failure, they can receive a partial transplant. This is when a part of a liver from another living person is taken and transplanted into the body of the sick person. In this case, both the donor and the recipient can continue to live healthy lives. How does this work? [A] Liver cells have very high rates of mitosis, so they can easily divide and replicate themselves to reform the missing parts of the liver. [B] A person can survive without a liver so the donor can donate an entire liver. [C] If part of the liver is removed, the stomach and small intestine can carry out some of their roles. [D] This description is incorrect: only the organs of deceased donors can be donated.

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Video Transcript

If a person is suffering from liver failure, they can receive a partial transplant. This is when a part of a liver from another living person is taken and transplanted into the body of the sick person. In this case, both the donor and the recipient can continue to live healthy lives. How does this work? Option (A), liver cells have very high rates of mitosis, so they can easily divide and replicate themselves to reform the missing parts of the liver. Option (B), a person can survive without a liver so the donor can donate an entire liver. Option (C), if part of the liver is removed, the stomach and small intestine can carry out some of their roles. Or option (D), this description is incorrect: only the organs of deceased donors can be donated.

Our question asks us about the liver, a very special organ within the body that has many functions. These include the processing of nutrients and the removal of toxins. Because the liver acts in the removal of toxins or detoxification, its cells must be constantly dividing in order to replace those that are damaged by the toxins. Therefore, liver cells are known to have high rates of mitosis, which is the process of cellular division. During a partial liver transplant, the patient with the damaged liver is provided with part of a healthy liver from a suitable donor. This allows the donor to keep part of their liver as well.

While most transplants require whole organs, the liver is an exception due to its high rates of mitosis. Let’s understand why. Because it can quickly increase its cell numbers, the transplanted liver is able to regenerate, forming a whole healthy liver in the patient. What’s more, the remaining part of the liver in the donor will also behave in the same way. Eventually, both the donor and the patient who received the partial transplant, or the recipient, will have a full functioning liver.

Now that we have discussed the process of partial organ transplantation, we can take a look at our answer choices. The question asks how both the donor and recipient are able to continue living healthy lives following a partial organ transplant. The correct answer to this question is (A): Liver cells have very high rates of mitosis, so they can easily divide and replicate themselves to reform the missing parts of the liver.

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