Organ donation is the donation of biological tissue or an organ of the human body, from a living or dead person to a living recipient in need of a transplantation. Transplantable organs and tissues are removed in a surgical procedure following a determination, based on the donor’s medical and social history, of which are suitable for transplantation – Wikipedia.
Millions of people in the country are waiting for an organ donation. Unfortunately, many may never get the call saying that a suitable donor organ — and a second chance at life — has been found. This is basically because of poor awareness on the importance of Organ Donation and also due to myths associated with the organ donation. Through this article, a sincere attempt is being made to highlight the importance of organ donation and to clear some of the myths surrounding this vital event of life.
Almost all organs can be donated by someone who is dead, but has to reach the recipient within few hours after the donor’s death. Incidentally, in India due to red tape bureaucracy, some precious organs are lost before it actually reaches the recipient. However, over the years the time taken for transplant of organs has been severely curtailed, thereby improving the success rate.
Every Organ Donation is voluntary. There are two methods of organ donation namely (i) Opt-in and (ii) Opt-out. While most of the western countries have ‘Opt-out’ system, India follows the ‘Opt-in’ system where a written consent is obtained from the donor or deceased donor’s family for organ donation. Some of the organs that are commonly donated are (i) Kidneys (ii) Eyes (Cornea) (iii) Heart (iv) Lungs (v) Liver (vi) Pancreas (vii) Skin from thighs, calves and back.
Society plays a crucial role in transplant programs especially in case of cadaver (brain dead) transplants. There is urgent need for increased public awareness regarding organ donation and greater effort must be taken to dispel public concerns regarding the same. Organ donations can give a new twist to the tragedy, by saving another or couple of other precious lives.
It can be hard to think about what's going to happen to your body after you die, let alone donating your organs and tissue. But being an organ donor is a generous and worthwhile decision that can be a lifesaver. If you've never considered organ donation or delayed becoming a donor because of possibly inaccurate information, here are answers to some common organ donation myths and concerns.
Myth: If I agree to donate my organs, the hospital staff won't work as hard to save my life.
Fact: When you go to the hospital for treatment, doctors focus on saving your life — not somebody else's. You'll be seen by a doctor whose specialty most closely matches your particular emergency.
Myth: Maybe I won't really be dead when they sign my death certificate.
Fact: Although it's a popular topic in the tabloids, in reality, people don't start to wiggle their toes after they're declared dead. In fact, people who have agreed to organ donation are given more tests (at no charge to their families) to determine that they're truly dead than are those who haven't agreed to organ donation.
Myth: Organ donation is against my religion.
Fact: Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most major religions. This includes Roman Catholicism, Islam, most branches of Judaism and most Protestant faiths. If you're unsure of or uncomfortable with your faith's position on donation, ask a member of your clergy.
Myth: I'm under age 18. I'm too young to make this decision.
Fact: That's true, in a legal sense. But your parents can authorize this decision. You can express to your parents your wish to donate, and your parents can give their consent knowing that it's what you wanted. Children, too, are in need of organ transplants, and they usually need organs smaller than those an adult can provide.
Myth: I'm too old to donate. Nobody would want my organs.
Fact: There's no defined cut-off age for donating organs. The decision to use your organs is based on strict medical criteria, not age. Don't disqualify yourself prematurely.
Myth: I'm not in the best of health. Nobody would want my organs or tissues.
Fact: Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify you from donating organs. The decision to use an organ is based on strict medical criteria. It may turn out that certain organs are not suitable for transplantation, but other organs and tissues may be fine. Only medical professionals at the time of your death can determine whether your organs are suitable for transplantation.
Myth: I'd like to donate one of my kidneys now, but I wouldn't be allowed to do that unless one of my family members is in need.
Fact: While that used to be the case, it isn't any longer. Whether it's a distant family member, friend or complete stranger you want to help, you can donate a kidney through certain transplant centres. If you decide to become a living donor, you will undergo extensive questioning to ensure that you are aware of the risks and that your decision to donate isn't based on financial gain. You will also undergo testing to determine if your kidneys are in good shape and whether you can live a healthy life with just one kidney. In India however, donation of an organ by a living person to a non-relative is not encouraged.
Myth: Rich and famous people go to the top of the list when they need a donor organ.
Fact: The rich and famous aren't given priority when it comes to allocating organs. It may seem that way because of the amount of publicity generated when celebrities receive a transplant, but they are treated no differently from anyone else. The reality is that celebrity and financial status are not considered in organ allocation.
Myth: My family will be charged if I donate my organs.
Fact: The organ donor's family is never charged for donating. The family is charged for the cost of all final efforts to save your life, and those costs are sometimes misinterpreted as costs related to organ donation. Costs for organ removal go to the transplant recipient.
Why you should consider organ donation
Now that you have the facts, you can see that being an organ donor can make a big difference, and not just to one person. By donating your organs after you die, you can save or improve multiple lives. And many families say that knowing their loved one helped save other lives helped them cope with their loss.
How to donate
Becoming an organ donor is easy. You can indicate that you want to be a donor in the following ways:
· Designate your choice on your driver's license. Do this when you obtain or renew your license.
· Sign and carry a donor card. Cards are available from Gift of Life Donors Foundation.
· Register with your state's donor registry. Most states have not yet started with registries, but Govt. is working on having a common registry. Till then one can opt for one of the two options mentioned above.
· Tell your family. Make sure your family knows your wishes regarding donation.
The best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out is to put them in writing. Include your wishes in your living will if you have one. If you have designated someone to make health care decisions for you, if you become unable to do so, make sure that person knows that you want to be an organ donor. It's also very important to tell your family that you want to be a donor. Hospitals seek consent from the next of kin before removing organs, although this is usually not required if you're registered with your state's donor registry.
How can you help us to promote Organ Donation
- Sign the Donor Card
- Be an active Life Member / Ordinary Member
- Donate generously for the cause
- Spread the message with your family and friends