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The intestine is a crucial part of the digestive system. Digestion begins in the mouth and stomach and is finished in the intestines. The upper part of the intestine, which is known as the small intestine, is a narrow, muscular tube that is about 20 feet long. It is coiled in the abdomen where it receives food from the stomach and finishes the process of absorbing vitamins and other nutrients. The lower part of the intestine, which is called the large intestine, is a wider tube that is about seven feet long and connects the small intestine to the anus. The large intestine absorbs excess water from the food and returns it to the blood stream. It also carries the waste products from the digestive process to the anus where they are eliminated from the body.
Why people need intestine transplants
If the intestines are not working correctly, you may experience dehydration and diarrhea as too much water is eliminated from your body. Some short-term illnesses like the flu or food poisoning can cause temporary diarrhea as the body eliminates the cause of the sickness. When the intestines begin to fail, these symptoms can become permanent, leading to on-going diarrhea and dehydration as well as muscle loss, poor growth, weight loss, fatigue, and frequent infections.
In some cases, the intestines are damaged in an accident or become twisted during an abdominal surgery for another condition. In these cases, doctors may need to remove some or all of the intestine. In other cases, disease may damage the intestine or prevent it from working correctly. If too much small intestine is removed or if it is not able to function, the body will not be able to absorb enough nutrients.
The need for intestine donations
If food cannot be digested, the patient may have to stop eating normal food and be fed nutrient fluid directly into the bloodstream. While this can provide nutrition, it can also lead to other complications with long-term use including bone disorders, infections, and liver failure.