One lungDream Master/shutterstock
You need at least one lung to breathe, but the other can be removed to treat lung cancer, tuberculosis, or other lung diseases. Breathing is harder but still possible when one of the organs is removed; patients lose about 35 percent of the volume of air they can exhale in a second, according to a study in the journal Respiratory Care. “The lung is a fixed cavity in the chest, so it can’t really get bigger,” says Julie Heimbach, MD, transplant surgeon and surgical director of liver transplantation at Mayo Clinic. (Don’t miss these signs of lung cancer you should never ignore.)
The large intestine might be removed to treat colorectal cancer or a bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and the doctor might take the rectum out along with it. A surgeon would either connect a pouch made of small intestine to your anus so you can pass stools as usual, or divert waste from the small intestine to an opening created in the abdomen, which would empty into a bag outside the body, says Dr. Heimbach. Patients might have more bathroom trips and typically need to change their diets to avoid diarrhea. Learn 10 other medical reasons you could have diarrhea.