This is a comprehension cloze question for 11 year olds: "His only hope for cure was a bone marrow transplant. His brother was chosen to donate some of his bone marrow. The ________ would take place in the States.

Was told that 'transplant' and 'procedure' can be accepted but 'operation' cannot because patient won't be cut.

Is it really so?

  • Certainly "procedure" is the more general & encompassing term, but, as commonly understood, "operation" could apply since anesthesia would be used and the two bodies would be "violated" with catheters larger than a typical hypodermic needle. – Hot Licks Oct 22 '15 at 18:06
  • (I've had over a dozen "procedures" to remove kidney stones, and while a surgeon never used a scalpel on me in any of them, I would defy you to claim that they could not be called "operations" -- operating table, general anesthesia, surgeon doing the work, several nurses and technicians assisting.) – Hot Licks Oct 22 '15 at 18:33

The relevant definition of operation in Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) doesn't mention cutting as a prerequisite:

operation n ... 4 : a procedure performed on a living body usu. with instruments esp. for the repair of damage or the restoration of health

Under the Eleventh Collegiate's definition, a bone marrow transplant would certainly be an operation; in fact, it might be viewed as two operations—one on the donor and one on the recipient. Any more-precise notion of the meaning of operation as a medical term of art involves a more sophisticated understanding of the term than Merriam-Webster seems to possess, and I think it is asking a lot of an eleven-year-old to be expected to possess it.

This is not to say that the operation in question may not also be characterized as a procedure.

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As answered by @SvenYargs, "operation" is fine.

However, you may say:

"The transplantation would take place in the States".

Comparing the 2 nouns "transplant" and "transplantation", my feeling is that the noun "transplant" better fits to the therapeutic method and that "transplatation" relates more to the operation.

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An operation is generally understood to be a procedure that is performed by a surgeon.

And a surgeon is the person who generally does the cutting, as you put it.

So with that in mind, I would agree with the person who gave you the advice.

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  • You probably need to say in this answer that a bone-marrow transplant usually doesn't need and isn't performed by a surgeon. You obviously know that, but if a reader thinks that it may be because they don't know what the procedure entails, this answer isn't very clear. – Andrew Leach Oct 22 '15 at 18:30
  • Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation is a nonsurgical procedure to collect blood-forming cells for bone marrow transplants. Bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure that takes place in a hospital operating room. – Graffito Oct 22 '15 at 19:51
  • You need some sources for your answer. eg. dictionary definitions. – dwjohnston Oct 22 '15 at 22:52

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