Organ Donation : Life Donation

What is organ donation?
Organ donation is the harvesting of an individual’s organs after he or she dies for the purpose of transplanting them into another person. Depending upon many biological factors like Blood Group, DNA structures etc. organs from the donor are transplanted in suitable recipient giving a lifeline to recipient and a chance to live after death for donor.

Who can be donor?
All of us can be organ donors, irrespective of age, caste, religion, community. Children can also be organ donors after taking consent for organ donation from their parents. The only huddle in organ donations sometimes is medical condition. Though most of the medical conditions which doesn’t directly affect an organ are not a problem in donation.

Active cancer, active HIV, active infection (for example, sepsis) or Intravenous (IV) drug use are some of the cases where organ donation is not advised. Patients who have Hepatitis C may still donate organs to a patient who also has Hepatitis C. The same is true for Hepatitis B — but this happens in very rare cases. Most cancer patients may donate corneas. For more details of who can donate which organ, please visit one of the links at the end of this article.

Which organs and tissues can be donated?
Vital Organs like heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, and pancreas can be donated only in case of ‘brain death’. However other tissues like corneas, heart valves, skin, bones etc can be donated only in case of natural death. Corneas (Eyes) are one of the most donated organs around the world.

How does Organ Donation help patients with organ failure?
For organ recipients, a transplant often means a second chance at life. Vital organs such as the heart, pancreas, liver, kidneys and lungs can be transplanted to those whose organs are failing. It allows many recipients to return to a normal lifestyle. For others, a cornea or tissue transplant means the ability to see again or the recovery of mobility and freedom from pain.

What is the importance of a donor registry?
A registry is an essential part of understanding who and where potential donors are. A registry gives a planner enough information to devise strategies to get more public cooperation and commitment towards organ donation. Having a registry in place allows doctors and transplant coordinators to check if a brain dead person wished to donate and then approaching the family for consent becomes easier. It helps in saving crucial time in the process of organ donation. At present, we do not have a central registry in India.

How does organ donation help families of deceased donors to cope with their loss?
The act of organ donation has the ability to comfort grieving families. It is always difficult to lose a loved one. Many grieving families of organ donors draw comfort from the fact that their loss may help to save or improve the lives of others. Studies carried out to understand how a family’s wounds heal have shown that the support from family members helps a person to overcome grief. The support of friends and religious and cultural beliefs also help donor families. Most of the donor families agreed to donate organs because they felt that it was the only positive outcome from their loss. Also the fact that their loved one is alive in some form even after death can be comforting in many cases.

Why Donate?
Each year, thousands of people die while waiting for a transplant, because no suitable donor can be found for them. The need for organ donors has never been greater.

Did you know In India every year nearly:
● 500,000 people die because of non-availability of organs
● 200,000 people die of liver disease
● 50,000 people die from heart disease
● 150,000 people await a kidney transplant but only 5,000 get one
● 1,000,000 people suffer from corneal blindness and await transplant

Nationally, with a population of 1.2 billion people, the statistic stands at 0.08 persons as organ donors per million population (PMP). This is an incredibly small and insignificant number compared to the statistics around the world.

Countries like the USA, UK, Germany, Netherlands have a ‘family consent’ system for donations where people sign up as donors, and their family’s consent is required. (These countries have seen the donations double Per Million Population averaging between 10-30 PMP). Other countries like Singapore, Belgium, Spain have a more aggressive approach of ‘presumed consent’, which permits organ donation by default unless the donor has explicitly opposed it during his lifetime. These countries have seen the rate of donations double, averaging between 20-40 PMP.

We understand it is difficult to think about organ donation when you have just lost a loved one; however organ donation is a generous and worthwhile decision that can save many lives. By donating, each person can save the lives of up-to 7 individuals by way of organ donation (You must have seen Seven Pounds to know how big an effect organ donation can have) and enhance the lives of over 50 people by way of tissue donation.

How to donate
To be an organ donor, it is important to register by signing up for Organ Donation. Please visit the website of one of our NGO mentioned below to register.

  1. Mohan Foundation: http://mohanfoundation.org/
  2. Shatayu: http://shatayu.org.in/
  3. Gift Your organ: http://giftyourorgan.org/
  4. Gift a Life: http://giftalife.org//

For any queries regarding organ donation, please call – 1800 4193737 (Toll free by MOHAN Foundation)

With inputs from initiative by Times of India group under “I Lead India” campaign.

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