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 per cent 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 Dr Julie Heimbach, a transplant surgeon and surgical director of liver transplantation at Mayo Clinic.
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.
While reproductive organs might be an important part of your love life, they aren’t necessary for survival. One study found a hysterectomy didn’t have any negative impact on women’s sex lives. Hormonal changes after ovaries are removed could create a loss of libido, though. For men, having just one testicle removed because of prostate cancer probably won’t affect their sex life much, says Dr Eric A. Klein, chairman of the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute at Cleveland Clinic. “A single testicle is all that’s needed to produce testosterone (which is necessary for a sex drive),” he says. If both are removed, your libido would go down significantly, and you wouldn’t be able to produce sperm. Men often have temporary erectile dysfunction and incontinence after the prostate is removed, says Dr Klein.