by Thilaka Ravi on  August 7, 2013 at 2:19 PM Health In Focus
Organ Donor Awareness Week 2013 - Gift of a Lifetime
People whose organs can be harvested after they are declared 'brain dead' are failing to give a fresh lease of life to those who are languishing for want of an organ transplant. This happens all over the world either because people aren't quite sure how organ donation works or people have pledged their organs and haven't told anyone about it to facilitate 'deceased' organ donation.

Different countries around the world celebrate Organ donor awareness week at different dates to honor donors and donor families and to increase public awareness on the pressing need for organ donors everywhere in the world. In India, August 8th to 14th each year is earmarked to promote the noble cause of organ donation. Central and State governmental bodies, NGOs, hospitals and health experts use this week to encourage organ and tissue donation to ease the life of many who continue to suffer because they don't get an organ for transplant.

Why is there a Great Need for Organ Donation?

Organs and tissues that we donate can improve the quality of life for many others—perhaps free people from painful dialysis treatments, save limbs, fix joints, give sight to many and help burn victims heal or save lives. Every person whose organs and tissues are used for transplantation after 'brain death' can single handedly achieve all of the above and even more, because in deceased organ donation, organs and tissues harvested within a time frame from one person declared 'brain dead' can be used to save as many as nine lives or more.

The human body is capable of surviving after organs or tissues are transplanted from a close relative, family member or someone with a near match that the patient's body can accept. A living person can donate a kidney, a part of the liver, lung, intestine, or pancreas. Eyes, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, heart, heart valves, intestinal organs and tissues can be harvested from a brain dead (deceased) donor within a specified time in cadaver transplantation.

What Hampers Organ Donation?

Certain common myths that are largely responsible for preventing organ donation from happening on a wider scale have emerged from international surveys.

• Many people wrongly believe that 'brain death' does not mean fully dead and the person can recover and will need the organs

• Some people are scared that doctors may give up trying to save their lives if they knew about their wish to be an organ donor

• Some people have a wrong religious belief that a dead person's body without vital organs is incomplete and so the dead person cannot 'rest in peace' or reach heaven

• Some people are complacent in their belief that there is a buy-sell black market that can fully supply organs and tissues for transplant

• Many people don't know that people of any age and with medical ailments can be donors

How to be an Organ Donor?

A classic case of a missed chance for organ donation happened in Mumbai, last week. A young man died in a road accident and though his brothers were willing to donate his organs the donation couldn't happen because they said his wife wouldn't be able to bear it and shouldn't know about it at all. Of course doctors couldn't harvest the organs without the wife's consent. Many lives can be saved if only more people pledge to donate organs, carry a donor card and discuss their wish to donate organs with their near and dear ones. This will definitely ease the job of grief counselors who have to persuade relatives to give permission to harvest organs at an emotional moment when a person is declared 'brain dead.'

How can I help Raise Awareness on Organ Donation?

The demand-supply ratio of the need for organs for transplant and the organs available is dismally low, especially in developing countries. Awareness campaigns through street theater, talks and poster campaigns in schools, colleges and corporate offices and highlighting successful organ transplants through the social media are slowly taking the importance of organ donation to all kinds of people. The much acclaimed recent movie 'The Ship of Theseus' has added a spiritual dimension to organ donation.

Personally, each of us can fill out the organ and tissue donor form or card and register with our State Donor Registry to show our willingness to allow our organs to be harvested after our death. It is very important we inform our family members about our intention to be a donor, so that they can respect our wish after our death and allow doctors to harvest organs and tissues without a fuss. We can seek more information on organ donation and recommend the cause to friends and colleagues so more people can become registered donors on special days like Valentine's day, Mother's day, Friendship day and many such days that people celebrate together round the year.

More people need to be sensitized on the dire need of organs for transplant on the one hand and the number of road accident victims who die everyday without their organs harvested-organs that can be so precious to those in need. If victims of accidents are declared 'brain dead' and if their organs are harvested on time, countless lives can be saved everyday.

Let's decide to pledge the organs and tissues that we can't take with us when we leave this world. The world will be a happier place with less suffering if each of us can actively crusade for the cause of raising awareness on organ donation and do our bit to close the huge gap between demand and supply in organ transplantation.

Download an Organ Donor card from

Source: Medindia

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