Organ donation is important for society and for the individuals who need it, as it provides a life-giving, life-enhancing opportunity to those who are at the end of the line for hope. The process of organ donation begins with a donor legally either consenting for his/her organs to be removed and transplanted to another person when the donor is alive or with the consent of the next of kin after the death of the donor.
Commonly transplanted organs or tissues include kidneys, heart, liver, pancreas, intestines, lungs, bones, bone marrow, skin, and corneas. Some organs and tissues like a kidney or part of the liver, part of the pancreas, or the lungs or the intestines can be donated by living donors, however, most of the donations occur after the death of the donor.
There are various myths and fears associated with organ donation, especially in a country like India, where there is a lack of awareness. A survey conducted in India found that every year, 500,000 people die because of non-availability of organs, 200,000 people die due to liver disease, and 50,000 people die because of heart disease. Moreover, out of the 150,000 people awaiting a kidney transplant, only 5,000 of them actually receive a donation.
Transplantations of organs have been one of the most important achievements of modern medicine. The ability to remove healthy organs from a person and transplant them into someone whose organs have failed or been injured is life-saving. This being said, transplants don’t happen as often as they could.
Facts and myths about Organ donation –
- Organ donation does not depend on age, caste, religion, community etc. Since Donation involves multiple organs and tissues, people who are ill or on medications can still say ‘yes’; if an illness or medication has rendered a particular organ unsuitable for donation, there still will be other organs that would be good candidates for a transplant.
- You are never too old to donate. The decision to donate organs is strictly based on medical criteria rather than on age. For those below the age of 18 years, the agreement of a parent or guardian would be required to become a donor.
- You can give a lease of new life to 8 other people with the donation of the 8 organs: the liver, lungs, heart, kidneys, pancreas and small intestine. Organ recipients are chosen based on their medical need, organ compatibility and their location.
- Tissues such as cornea, heart valves, skin, and bone can be donated in case of natural death but vital organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, and pancreas can be donated only in case of ‘brain death’ i.e., when the person is legally dead, but artificial respiration keeps the organs supplied with oxygen-rich blood, allowing them to remain suitable for transplanting.
The fact that organ donation is often impossible is what makes it so important that as many people register to become donors.
- The transplantation of organs and tissues are carried out with care and reverence for the deceased and their relatives. Skin and other tissues are never removed from the visible parts of the body like face, throat or hands.
- Doctors will always act in the best interests of their patients. Organ donation is neither considered nor discussed until after the patient is declared dead.
- Most religions support organ and tissue donation and consider it as an act of charity and goodwill.
Restrictions on organ donation:
Having a serious condition like actively spreading cancer, HIV, diabetes, kidney disease, or heart disease, Ebola virus disease can prevent you from donating as a living donor. In rare situations, the organs of donors with HIV have been used to help others having the same condition. It may also be possible for people with certain types of cancers to donate after three years of treatment.
Speaking to your family about organ donation:
When faced with the choice of donation, some families do not consent to the donation of their loved one’s organs. A common reason for this refusal could be that the potential donor’s family was not aware of their loved one’s wishes. Hence if you have decided or registered yourself as an organ donor, you are encouraged to make your organ donation intentions clear.
Being an organ donor provides a life-saving opportunity. If you’d like to donate your organs, pledge today to save lives. It is the right thing to do!
Disclaimer: The above information has been prepared by a qualified medical professional and may not represent the practices followed universally. The suggestions listed in this article constitute relatively common advice given to patients, and since every patient is different, you are advised to consult your physician, if in doubt, before acting upon this information. Lupin Limited has only facilitated the distribution of this information to you in the interest of patient education and welfare.