Organ Donor Awareness Week 2009

by Thilaka Ravi on  August 8, 2009 at 11:37 AM Health In Focus
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8-14 August 2009

Around the world organ donor awareness week is earmarked by different countries at different dates as a week to commemorate the ultimate act of kindness by donors and donor families who give strangers a second lease of life. During this week, health experts and NGOs highlight the importance of organ and tissue donation in saving lives. It is also the time when people are encouraged to discuss and debate organ and tissue donation, talk about it with their families and friends, tell their families about their decision to become a donor and become a "card carrying donor."

There is a huge gap between demand and supply as far as organ transplant is concerned. In most countries there are thousands of people on organ transplant waiting lists at any given time. Sadly, many of them die waiting. An organ or a tissue transplant can significantly improve the quality of life of the recipient and sometimes it is the only hope of survival for the patient.

Organ donation can happen when:-

• a deceased donor can give eyes, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, heart, intestinal organs etc

• a living donor can give a kidney, or a part of the liver, lung, intestine, or pancreas

Donated tissues like skin, bone and heart valves from people who have previously committed to donation can improve the quality of life for recipients and even save lives.

Real Life Stories of Changed Lives

The Internet is replete with real life stories of people bearing witness to the dramatic improvement in the quality of their life after having received an organ or tissue donation. A 20-year-old New Zealand woman explains how she was in great pain, felt very sick with severe itching and was shunting in and out of hospitals before she had a liver transplant that gave a whole new meaning to her life. Pursuing a Nursing degree she gratefully remembers the unknown donor who died and 'made her whole.'

Ms. Schoelles from US wanted to be an organ and tissue donor even as a young girl and had legally registered to donate her organs. When she was 35 years old—a loving wife and mother of five children, she had brain aneurysm while driving her car and after a marathon effort to save her life she was declared brain dead. Her clearly documented wish to be a donor recorded in her state donor registry rendered her an ideal candidate for organ and tissue donation. Seven people received lifesaving organ transplants and many more were healed and strengthened through tissue transplants thanks to Ms Schoelles' compassionate gift of life.

Hithedran, an energetic young 16-year-old Indian lad had a fatal crash that left him brain dead. Amidst their grief, his parents—both doctors, decided to donate his organs and alerted the city hospitals. In record time his heart was transported from one end of the city to the other with the help of traffic police that cleared all signals enroute, and Hithendran's heart now beats within a bubbly young girl who wouldn't have survived otherwise.

Misperceptions that hinder donor registration

A survey done in the US recently revealed some common confusion that clouds the mind while contemplating donation of organs:

• People erroneously believe that a person can recover from 'brain death'

• Some people think doctors may not try very hard to save their lives if they know about their wish to be a donor

• Superstitious belief that the dead body without the vital organs is incomplete and the dead person will not 'rest in peace' 

• People assume there is a buy-sell black market for organs and tissue transplant

• Many people who wish to donate their organs and tissues are not sure that they will be acceptable as donors. Actually, age or health conditions should not prevent people from becoming potential donors

Need to raise awareness on organ donation

It is important to raise awareness about donating organs before it is too late. When one human being can give a new lease of life to 7 or nearly 10 others through organ donation and a better life to many others through donated tissues, the focus should be on sensitizing as many people as possible to the pressing need to register their willingness to donate organs and tissues. Many countries all over the world use Organ Donor Awareness Week as a platform to educate the public on organ donation and get them to sign their willingness on Organ Donor Registries that serve as lifelines to people waiting to receive organ donations.

Many potential donations fail to happen because the family members do not know the person's wish to be an organ donor. Hence it is important for people to register their consent with the State Organ Donor Registry and inform their nearest kith and kin about the same. Donors should always carry their donor card along with them while stepping out of their house, so that in case of an emergency the authorities can realize the bearer of the card is an organ donor and can take immediate steps to retrieve the organs and tissues before the specified time lapses.

So hesitate no further, decide to save lives and pledge your organs today!

Click Here To Download an Organ Donor Card from MOHAN Foundation

Source: Medindia
Thilaka Ravi/L

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