Patients with organ
failures can lead near normal lives, if they receive an organ from
a donor on time. In addition, tissues like the cornea can help a blind person
see. Unfortunately, the list of people waiting for a transplant cannot be
compared to that of available donors - in
India, the gap between the donors and the recipients is huge
‘The Organ Donation Day is being observed on the 13th August with the hope of encouraging more people to come forward to pledge their organs and reduce the gap between donors and the people who need the organs.’
The need for organs for
donation is acute in India, with alarming statistics.
- While countries over the world have seen organ donation numbers
in the range of 10 to 40 persons as organ donors per million population
(PMP), the number in India stands at a dismal 0.08.
- Around 5 lakh people
die in India due to the non-availability of organs every year.
Here are the answers to
some questions that could help to clear your thoughts on organ donation and
decide on pledging your organs.
What is Brain Death?
Organs are obtained only
when a person is declared brain dead. Brain
dead means that the patient's brain is no longer functioning, and the person is
dead, but the circulation in the organs is maintained with the help of an
artificial support system. Thus, if the artificial support system is withdrawn,
the patient would be dead.
The situation cannot be reversed from this point Brain death
often happens following a road traffic
accident or a stroke causing a bleed in the brain. Brain death is different
from coma, since the brain in coma does have some function and some people can
be revived from coma. Cardiac death is when the heart stops beating and the
lungs stop functioning, and therefore the circulation to the body and the
oxygen supply to organs has stopped. In such situations, organs cannot be
harvested but tissues like the cornea, heart valves, skin and bones can, for up
to 12 to 24 hours after the death.
Can Organs be Donated during One's
Most organs can be
donated only after one's death. Organs like the kidney
or parts of the
liver or the pancreas can be donated by a living person. Every person has two
kidneys, and if the function of the kidneys is good, the person can survive
with only one kidney.
Similarly, half of the
pancreas is enough for an individual and the other half can be donated. The
liver has the power of regeneration; thus even if a part is donated, the liver
in the donor grows back. Living donors
in India should be relatives of the patient or individuals that are close to
the patient; a person who is unknown to the patient cannot be a living donor.
The donation is entirely based on the donor's wish, and there can be no
pressure of any sort.
Can a Person with an Illness
donate Organs after Death?
individuals can be organ donors, even with some medical ailments.
There are a
few people who cannot donate their organs, for example, those with active
or active infection like sepsis, or
intravenous drug users. In fact, even cancer patients can donate their corneas
after their death. Thus, usual ailments like diabetes and hypertension should
not be considered as deterrents to signing up for organ donation. Age is also
not an issue, as organs can be donated by the young and old alike. Even
children sign up as organ donors; however, parent consent is necessary.
Will my organs be harvested before
informing my relatives?
current rules in India do not allow organ donation without the consent of the
. It is often difficult for relatives to take a
decision of organ donation at a time when they are faced with the grief of
losing a close one. However, if you sign up for a donation during your lifetime, it may be
easier for them, knowing that it was your wish.
In fact, the process of
donation often helps the relatives heal from the grief faster. They could feel
consoled by the fact that, even in your death, parts of you will be living in
this world through someone else, changing their lives, and helping them to fulfill
their dreams. It is important for you to
inform your family members of your decision because organ donation cannot
happen without their consent. It is also important to carry your donor card with you at all times
Will my body be disfigured
following the harvesting?
No. The harvesting will
be done like a surgery. The body will be properly clothed so that anyone who
sees the body will not be aware that your organs have been donated.
Why is it necessary to transplant organs as soon as possible after death?
Once the organs are
harvested, they have to be transported to the recipient's location as soon as
possible. This is because the organs last for a limited time outside the body. The heart and lungs can survive for a
period of around 4 to 6 hours after harvesting.
With the availability of
facilities in several parts of the country for harvesting organs and quick
transport through even air ambulances, we now hear of transplants being carried
out between cities, and sometimes even between states. The infrastructure still
needs improvement, so that organs of people that have been pledged do not go
wasted in the absence of facilities to harvest them.
Organ donation is just a few clicks away. You could also register on the websites of NGOs like the MOHAN Foundation http://www.mohanfoundation.org/
- You have nothing to
lose if you pledge your organs. In any case,
they will be consigned to flames or buried along with your body
- You have the power of
changing someone's life after your death - it
could be a child born with a liver disease, or a mother who has suffered
from kidney failure, or a young person who cannot see. You would be giving
a part of you to someone, and could completely change their lives.
- A part of you will
continue living even after you are no longer around.