7 Organs You Could Totally Live Without


[♪ INTRO] The human body is an incredibly complex machine
made up of systems of organs all working together to keep things humming along smoothly. So you’d think that taking anything out
would make the whole thing break down. But of course, lots of people live without
some of their organs. Like, you’re better off without an appendix
if it’s giving you a problem, for example. And you can afford to lose all kinds of more
important organs, too, like a giant chunk of your liver or even an entire lung. Because yeah, your body is a finely tuned
machine — if you don’t mind me saying so — but it also has a bunch of redundancies
that allow it to adapt to some pretty extreme changes. So here are just a few of the bits you can
live without. Number one, the brain. You didn’t think we were gonna go there! Of all of the organs in the human body to
lose, even partially, you would think that the brain would be a total dealbreaker. I mean, it controls or coordinates basically
everything else. But it turns out that sometimes, it’s better
to live with just one hemisphere — half a brain, in other words. Like when people have a kind of epilepsy where
seizures stem from one side of the brain. This can happen with some developmental brain
disorders, or with rare conditions like when one brain hemisphere is abnormally large. One-sided seizures are often difficult to
treat, and they can be debilitating. So sometimes doctors recommend a hemispherectomy:
the removal of some or all of the half of the brain that’s affected. It’s a very rare, extreme operation, obviously,
but when it’s successful, it can result in a relatively normal life. After a hemispherectomy, between 50-90% of
patients become completely seizure free. They do experience some paralysis in the half
of the body normally controlled by the missing brain hemisphere, but most are still able
to walk if they could before the procedure. And the surgery doesn’t usually result in
cognitive deficits, either. Younger patients tend to have fewer side effects
because the remaining healthy hemisphere is still developing, allowing it to compensate
for what’s missing. Still, it’s a difficult procedure with major
risks, so doctors don’t just chop out half of somebody’s brain without carefully weighing
other options. But the idea that you can lose half of your
brain and still be alive at all is pretty incredible. You might even say it’s … mind-blowing. Breathing is another thing that’s kind of
essential for human life, so you would think that losing a lung would cause a lot of problems. But you can get by just fine with just one
lung. Lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease, cancer, or tuberculosis can wreck someone’s lung tissues. So in some cases, part of a lung or even the
entire lung will be removed in a surgery called a pneumonectomy. When one lung is removed, the extra space
allows other organs to shift a bit, giving the remaining lung some more room to expand. Studies have shown that in some animals like
dogs and rats, the remaining lung can actually grow new alveoli—the little sacs where gas
exchange happens. It’s thought that children who get a pneumonectomy
might also do this since their lungs are still developing. But in adults, it’s more likely that the
alveoli just stretch and expand a little to move more air through. Ultimately, one lung is able to do about 70-80%
of what two lungs can, and that is usually enough. Depending on age and other health factors,
it might be a bit more difficult to do strenuous activities, but some people who have had this
surgery go on to run marathons, which is more than I can say for me. Your stomach has to be tough enough to mush
around your meals in gastric acid before passing them along to the small intestine. So it’s fairly resilient. But it can still become impaired or diseased
to the point that the patient needs surgery to redirect the digestive tract around their
stomach or to remove part of it. And in some cases, surgeons perform a total
gastrectomy to take out the whole thing and just connect the esophagus directly to
the small intestine. Oddly enough, this doesn’t really affect
the overall process of digestion since most of it occurs in the small intestine anyway. But since there is no stomach to store food
in, patients often need to eat smaller, more frequent meals. Sometimes they also need additional vitamin
supplements for things that aren’t absorbed well by the small intestine, like vitamin
B12 or vitamin D. And some patients might develop a side effect
called dumping syndrome, which, no, does not refer to the ‘dumping’ that you may be
thinking of right now. Sugars and starches are usually digested in
the stomach, but after a gastrectomy, they “dump” straight into the small intestine. Since the intestine isn’t used to that,
it recruits water to help break those things down, and a lot of that water comes from your
blood, causing a drop in blood pressure. With dumping syndrome, that can cause all
kinds of unpleasant symptoms after a meal: cramping and bloating, nausea, weakness, dizziness,
and low blood pressure. But generally, dietary changes are enough
to overcome these issues, and people without a stomach get enough calories to go back to
their lives. The spleen, which sits to the left of the
stomach, is also a pretty useful organ. It’s involved in filtering blood, including
removing and breaking down old red blood cells, and it’s one of the places where infection-fighting
white blood cells are produced. But when bad things happen to someone’s
abdomen—like if they get shot or stabbed or get in a motorcycle accident like my father-in-law,
the spleen can rupture. That’s super dangerous because it can result
in internal bleeding that could be fatal. The spleen can also cause problems if it becomes
enlarged from an infection, because the swelling can trap and destroy healthy blood cells,
leading to anemia. In those cases, doctors will do a splenectomy,
where they remove part or all of the spleen. It’s typically considered a safe procedure,
but because of its role in the immune system, people without a spleen are more prone to
infections, especially from certain bacteria. So for people without spleens, it’s important
for them to boost their immune system by taking preventative antibiotics and staying vaccinated. But the redundancy of the human body means
the immune system isn’t completely destroyed. And the liver can pick up the slack when it
comes to filtering blood. Speaking of which… Your liver does a lot—it processes nutrients,
detoxifies your blood, and produces bile, a fluid that helps digestion. And yet, while you can’t have your whole
liver removed, you can donate more than half of it to help someone whose liver is diseased. What’s really amazing, though, is that unlike
your other organs, your liver will grow back. Your liver is made of hepatocytes, specialized
cells that don’t actively replicate…that is, until some are missing. When a piece of liver is removed, hepatocytes
reactivate and start replicating again, growing new liver cells. Liver regeneration is so efficient that you
can lose up to 65% of your liver and it’ll grow back within a year. Just a quarter of a liver can become a completely
new liver in a transplant recipient. Like any major surgery, there are risks and
potential complications. But if you’re in good health and feeling
altruistic, liver donation is a thing that you can do and probably be totally fine afterwards. Tucked underneath your liver is a small, pear-shaped
organ: the gallbladder. Its main job is to store the bile that the
liver produces until it’s needed for digestion. But sometimes, the components of bile harden
into small pebble-like stones, and if those stones become a problem, doctors just yank
out the whole thing. Bile is mostly made up of cholesterol, bile
salts, and a waste compound called bilirubin that’s responsible for the color of your
poop. In the small intestine, bile’s job is to
help digest fats and break down fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin D. But for reasons that actually aren’t well-understood,
the cholesterol and bilirubin in bile can harden into gallstones, which can cause blockages
in the bile duct, the tube that leads to the small intestine. Problematic gallstones are super painful,
and without treatment, they can lead to infections and inflammation and even be deadly. Unlike kidney stones, which can often be peed
out, gallstones don’t exit willingly. Sometimes they can be dissolved with medication,
but usually they return after the meds are stopped. So in most cases, the treatment for gallstones
is to remove the gallbladder entirely by performing a cholecystectomy. This surgery was first performed in 1882. A German surgeon noted that other mammals
don’t have a gallbladder, so he figured ours probably wasn’t too important. And he was kind of right. The bile still gets to your small intestine
without it — it just doesn’t get temporarily stored along the way. If your gallbladder is removed and the surgery
goes smoothly, usually all you have to show for it is a tiny scar and maybe a little bit
of extra indigestion. Each of your kidneys is made up of more than
a million filtering units called nephrons, which remove waste and excess fluid from the
blood. If that doesn’t seem too important to you,
just imagine what would happen to your house if you couldn’t take out the trash for a
couple months. In your body, increased levels of waste can
cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration… The whole body can swell, increasing blood
pressure and imparing breathing. And chemical imbalances from improper fluid
management can lead to serious issues like bone and muscle loss. Ultimately, kidney failure can be fatal. Yet, you only really need one of your kidneys. Each day, a pair of kidneys filters about
150 liters of blood to produce about a liter and a half of urine. But even one healthy kidney can do all that
work on its own, which is why live kidney donation is a thing. When one kidney is removed, the other kidney’s
nephrons compensate by getting bigger so they can each do more filtering. It becomes just as effective as two kidneys
would be. And weirdly, leaving a bad kidney or even
two inside of you isn’t a problem, either. Recipients don’t always get their faulty
kidneys removed, so they actually end up living with a total of three kidneys, even though
only one is doing all of the work. Obviously, your body works best and is the
healthiest when all of the parts are present and functioning. But it is definitely possible to live a healthy
and relatively normal life without some organs, because the human body is incredibly good
at adapting to change. Remove an organ or two, and it just takes
it in stride, it’s like, “I’m gonna be one big lung now, I’m fine!” I mean, it doesn’t look that impressive,
I don’t think, but it is pretty wonderful, thank you body! Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow. If you liked hearing about your various removable
body parts, you might also enjoy this episode on how some people have bits replaced with
animal parts. [♪ OUTRO]

100 thoughts on “7 Organs You Could Totally Live Without”

  1. 6:40 but you only can donate liver 1 time. The regrown liver part can't be donated again. So, think twice before donating. At least donate to someone you know or cares or your love ones.

  2. First up; the brain. That's a relief. I had a stroke a couple months ago. It was a big one. I saw the brain scan, and there's a big, dark chunk of dead tissue in my skull now. Ew, right? Still functioning, though. Recovery isn't as smooth as I'd prefer, but I'm still alive and in recovery. That's good enough for now

  3. Spleens can actually regenerate. I read about a man who had a splenectomy but when he had another surgery at a later date the doctor found that the man had actually grown 7 smaller spleens!

  4. I want to tie his hands and watch him try to do a video. LOL He'd look like a belly dancer, squirming as he talked.

  5. Yeah. One of my kidneys failed from cancer treatment and the other started to fail after they told me I could live just fine with one kidney! Now I am in stage III kidney failure, so do not be so sure that the one kidney left is just going to be fine?

  6. I always surprise people when they learn I am missing part of my spine and my brain and only having one kidney !

  7. The reason for hardening of bile is actually well known
    Most of stones in human body are simple calcification due to bad diet
    Calcification occurs especially when one supplements calcium using rocks (well, calcium carbonate is a stone, humans are not made to eat stones), to much vitamin D3 compared to vitamin K2 and not enough ALA omega 3. To process calcium body needs vitamin D3 to absorb calcium, vitamin K2 to distribute calcium and ALA omega 3 to carry calcium. Lack of unbalance of those will result in stones and calcification of veins.

    Do your research before stating that reason is unknown, when it is very well known, but standard modern medicine simply do not want to remember, as vitamins and fatty acids are found in foods and cannot be patented.

  8. Title of video: 7 Organs You Could Totally Live Without
    Actual video: 5 Organs You Could Totally Live Without And 2 Organs You Can Totally Live Chunks With

  9. you can also live without reproductive organs
    all they do is create more humans
    but for you to live ? yeah totally useless

  10. If the liver replicates itself, yet others may have a damaged or diseased liver.
    Why do we need to donate when their livers should regrow itself?

  11. When you are on internship but you are completely unaware of fact that we can remove one hemisphere of brain 😂😂😂😂😂

  12. “Pebble like stones” my arse! When I was 15 they pulled out a gallstone the size of a golf ball as well as a bunch of other sizes… the surgery DID NOT go well

  13. I had an organ. I got rid of it. No problem ever since. The thing didn't even work for years. I just use a piano keyboard now.

  14. The more I learn about science the more I'm amazed by it. Even just the fact that we've been able to learn these things at all I'd fascinating.

  15. If I wrote a medical drama show:
    Boyfriend: I can’t thank you enough, I love you, Sarah
    Girlfriend: I would rather live without a kidney, than live without you

  16. There are lots of people that really can do fine without their brain. After all, they aren't using it anyway.

  17. I'm sure you're all aware that this week is National Gall Bladder Week, and so as sort of an educational feature at this point I thought I would acquaint you with some of the results of my recent researches into the career of the late Doctor Samuel Gall, inventor of the gall bladder, which certainly ranks as one of the more important technological advances since the invention of the joy buzzer and the dribble glass.
    Dr. Gall's faith in his invention was so dramatically vindicated last year, as you no doubt recall, when, for the first time in history in a nationwide poll, the gall bladder was voted among the top ten organs. His educational career began, interestingly enough, in agricultural school, where he majored in animal husbandry, until they… caught him at it one day… whereupon he switched to the field of medicine, in which field he also won renown as the inventor of gargling, which prior to that time had been practiced only furtively by a remote tribe in the Andes who passed the secret down from father to son as part of their oral tradition.

    He soon became a specialist, specializing in diseases of the rich. He was, therefore, able to retire at an early age.

  18. I am a nurse and "dumping syndrome" does describe the digested food rapidly going through the digestive system and causes very frequent liquid stools. This is usually caused by removal of parts of the colon. It depends on how much colon is removed and where the dissection occurs. Part of the function of the colon is to absorb water and if part is removed dumping syndrome can occur.

  19. 4:45 Ketogenic diet. Solved. Most people should probably be on keto anyway. It's the ancestrally appropriate diet for our species, save for people whose ancestors stayed at the equator. Those folks would have had more carbs throughout the year than others. But our physiology is definitely not optimized for Little Debbie. That's for sure.

  20. Dad had one of his lungs permanently collapsed due to TB in the 1940's. At the end of his life in the late 2000's, he was on a ventilator and I got talking to the RT (respiratory therapist) who was monitoring it. He didn't know this about dad, and since he was moving about 75-80% normal lung volume, the RT assumed dad was just not effectively using all of his lungs, not using just 1! He'd also (like many of today's medical professionals) never heard of this treatment for TB, as today, its treated with drugs.

  21. There’s more! Appendix, tonsils, reproductive organs, and sensory organs (ears, eyes, nose, tongue). Obviously your life may be different without them, but probably less of an impact than losing half your brain!

  22. you only need 50% of your pancreas to live.

    i'm sure type 1 diabetics are happy about this.

    think about pancreatic islet transplants that they can be off insulin for atleast a year

    and the transplants obviously aren't all beta cels

  23. you can also live without your testicles the process is called a vasectomy now the testicles are responsible for the production of testosterone which is important in male puberty and also produces and store sperm cells until that special night on your honeymoon when you want to get a little romantic and consummate your new marriage however the problem is that testosterone can cause aggression in men so they decide to have their testicles removed to either solve their aggression problem or when the couple decides to stop having kids when they got enough for small or medium sized family the third reason could also be testicular cancer but without them a man would not have any sex drive and P.S my sister got her gallbladder removed but that was a long time ago

  24. Take off those awful glasses my father used to wear in the 60's so we can see your handsome face, you, John Oliver, Anderson Cooper, Stephen Colbert what is it with these Clark Kent glasses.

  25. Yeah. I'm missing a lobe of my brain, the right temporal lobe, and no one would know. I always joke "I'm missing the music part of my brain," even though I'm a musician.

  26. I had my gallbladder removed because it became diseased and caused my pancreas to swell and also become diseased.
    Now I have diarrhea every single day no matter what I eat. Yaaaay.

  27. I'm reminded of a friend who recently lost her newborn, essentially. He was born without a brain, no brain whatsoever, just a stem. He had made it out of the hospital, into their home, and it was weeks before the couple had realized anything was wrong, and only because his head was abnormally large that day (fluid built up to fill the void in his head) anyway he survived for a few weeks after that but eventually passed. Remarkable how he seemed so healthy and normal. And nobody knew.

  28. This is one of those videos that you question the validity and the truthfulness and the accuracy.my understanding is that they're not removing your brain or half of your brain when it comes to stopping the seizure activity they do cut a portion of it out but it has to do with the electrical conduction system and not the actual brain matter. In other words I think this video is b*****

  29. I had a wood shop teacher in high school who had no stomach (thanks cancer!). He said he had to chew thoroughly and there were a few foods he had to avoid. He could also eyeball most measurements with alarming accuracy, usually to within the thickness of the pencil he was using (about 1/16th of an inch).

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