The advancements in medical sciences have made organ and tissue donation possible thus affecting many lives and transforming them for the better. Unfortunately, it has not made the difference it is capable of as many misconceptions and myths surround it. This article aims to throw some light on the entire process of organ donation and bust some myths along the way.
What Is Organ Donation?
It is the transplantation of organs from one person (known as the donor) to another (the recipient). While seems organ donation to be synonymous with deceased donors, in some cases, healthy people too can be donors for certain organs provided the required medical criteria are fulfilled.
What Is Tissue Donation?
A tissue is, in simple terms, a collection of cells having a common function. These tissues can also be transplanted to recipients for up to 24 hours after the donor’s death.
Living and Deceased Organ Donation
- Living organ donation as the name implies refers to the transplantation of organs from living donors to recipients.
- The donor is usually a close blood relative.
- The organs transplanted from living donors are liver and kidney – this is because the liver has the capacity to regenerate and a person can live a normal life with one kidney.
- Deceased organ donation refers to the donation of organs after death.
- For deceased organ donation, the person has to be declared brain dead by a team of accredited doctors.
- A lot of people assume that irrespective of the mode of death, organ donation is possible. This is not true. In India, only in the case of brain death is organ donation done.
Which Organs Can Be Transplanted?
As already mentioned, the liver and the kidneys can be transplanted. The heart, lungs, intestines and pancreas are the other organs that can be transplanted.
Which Tissues Can Be Transplanted?
The cornea of the eye, bones, skin, valves of the heart, bone marrow, tendons and ligaments can all be transplanted.
- In the case of a living donor, any person over 18 years of age can voluntarily donate provided certain medical criteria are met.
- After transplantation, the donor will be under medical supervision till the doctors deem him fit to leave.
- In the case of a deceased donor, brain stem death makes organ donation possible while in the case of cardiac death only tissue donation is possible. This is because in cardiac death, the organs die soon after the heart stops beating.
- Medical experts will certify brain stem death and only after that will the donation process begin.
- The donor’s family’s consent is mandatory.
- The donor will be kept on life support and after the donation process is complete, the body will be handed over to the family.
Read More: Who Can Be An Eligible Liver Donor?
The Family’s Role
- Even if a person has pledged to donate his organs after death, in India, the immediate family’s consent is needed to carry out the process after the person’s death.
- Thus, it is not only the person but the entire family that has to be involved when it comes to organ donation.
- Therefore, the donor has to talk to his family and make his feelings clear to them.
Brain Stem Death: What Is It?
- Serious damage to the brain with no possibility of reversal and termination of all brain activity is known as brain death.
- In the case of brain death, the person cannot live without being supported by medical equipment.
- Declaration of brain death needs the consensus of a panel of 4 doctors. Of the 4 doctors, 2 must be approved by the Government to certify a person as brain dead.
- There are a number of tests to prove brain death which need to be done twice with a 6-hour interval in-between.
- The panel of doctors must in no way be connected to or benefit from the organ donation process.
Facts and Myths
- Caste, community and religion have no role to play in organ donation. Anyone can be a donor.
- People suffering from HIV, cancer, diabetes, kidney problems and heart problems cannot donate their organs.
- Tissue donation is possible with natural death but organ donation can be done only in the case of brain stem death.
- Unlike coma, in the case of brain death, recovery is not possible. As established by Indian law, extensive testing is necessary to declare a person as brain dead.
- People believe that when a person or his family has agreed for organ transplantation, doctors will not do their best to save the patient. This cannot be more untrue. The treating doctor is in no way connected to organ transplantation. Every doctor always does his best for the patient.
- The donor’s family will not bear any of the transplantation costs.
- Organ donation will not disfigure the donor’s body in any way.
- A person who has agreed to donate his organs can always change his mind and reverse his decision. It is not fixed or binding.
- Superstitions which claim that when a person donates his organs, he will be born without those organs in his next life are baseless and untrue.
Organ Donation in India
- To say that India suffers from a shortage of organ donors would be an understatement.
- Family is often unwilling to agree to donate organs.
- It is a tough call in any situation and more so when the family is not acquainted with the facts regarding donation.
- This is where awareness about organ donation plays a huge role.
- In India, every year around 1.5 lakh people are declared brain dead.
- But organ donation is a meagre 0.86 for every million.
- With a demand for nearly 5 lakh organs a year, donors are simply not enough.
- As a result, many people lose their lives.
Together We Can Make a Difference
Lead the way by registering for organ donation. Talk to family members, dispel the myths and fears and spread the facts regarding organ donation. Finally, realize the world of difference you would be making to a person and his family – the significance cannot be put into words!