Organ Donation Week in India – Donate Your Organs and Save Lives

Organ Donation Week in India – Donate Your Organs and Save Lives

by Dr. Lakshmi Venkataraman on Aug 11 2018 7:31 PM
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  • Organ donation week is being observed starting from the 13th August and aims to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation in saving the lives of persons who would otherwise die without an organ transplantation
  • Every year several million persons across the globe die due to non-availability of organs; in India alone, the figure is 5 lakhs
  • There is a huge gap between the demand for organs for transplant and the availability of organs which needs to be overcome


Organ Donation Day

Organ donation is when a person permits removal of his organ/organs either by consent of the person while still alive or after death with the consent of the person’s immediate family. The person donating the organ is the donor and the patient receiving it is the recipient.
Organ donation and transplant is a legal process governed by a regulatory body. A person who wishes to donate his organs as well as institutions conducting transplants have to be registered under the government and follow the guidelines and procedures laid down.


History of Organ Donation Week in India

Organ donation week in the month of August was first started by a leading non-government organisation called MOHAN Foundation in the year 2009. In 2013, Times of India received sponsorship to run a campaign for this cause and helped bring the cause to the centre stage among all the other causes.

The Times of India campaign is now in its 6th year and hence created a good amount of awareness for the cause at least among all the metros. Since 2012 the rate of cadaver donation has gone up four times due to various factors and one among them is public awareness.

Medindia spoke to its chief editor Dr.Sunil Shroff who also is the trustee of the leading NGO Mohan Foundation that works in the field of organ donation about the increase in organ donation rate in India. Dr.Shroff said: There is not one factor that has resulted in the increase in donation rate in India. Public awareness is one of them and we need to acknowledge the contribution of media especially Times of India and NDTV. The other important reasons for this increase is due to the trained transplant coordinators being made available in most transplant hospitals to support the families in their decision to Donate by MOHAN Foundation. The foundation has also helped in capacity building in the ICU and helped with training of surgeons’.

MOHAN Foundation over the last 9 years has trained almost 2000 such coordinators. They have also held workshops and trained over 500 intensive care staff who take care of the potential donors. Besides this they have trained 150 surgeons on how to retrieve and transplant organs. Training of surgeons has been in collaboration with Liver Foundation lead by Dr.Asthna in Bangalore and with the help of faculty from Oxford.

The Government of India too on 27th November celebrates Organ Donation Day . This was after World Organ Donation Congress that was held in Delhi in 2010 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

In 2014, the government also has established an apex body called NOTTO to help improve organ donation rate in India. They now have through their website collected over 100,000 organ donor pledges.


Aims and Objectives of Organ Donation Day – What We Can Do

  • To raise awareness among the population about the importance and need of organ donation in saving a person’s life or improving their quality of life
  • To spread the awareness message of organ donation all over the country
  • To educate persons and remove their fears and hesitation
  • To honor and celebrate persons who have donated their organs
  • To encourage more persons and their families to come forward and register for organ donation
  • Share messages and inspiring stories widely in social media such as Facebook and Twitter about organ donation and transplant in saving and improving the quality of life of a patient
  • Distribute information leaflets about organ donation and its process to educate and remove the fear of organ donation among the public
  • Arrange educational talk shows and programs on mass media and write-ups in print media to ensure that the message of organ donation reaches far and wide
  • Organize events in the community and get organ donors and transplant recipients to talk about their story to inspire others to become organ donors

Organs that Can Be Donated

Vital organs like heart, kidneys, liver, lungs intestines and pancreas can be donated only if a person is declared “brain dead”. Tissues like skin, cornea, heart valves and bones can be donated following natural death.

What is Brain Death?

It is essential that brain death is confirmed and certified by experts before the organs can be removed. Brain death is said to have occurred when brain is damaged permanently and the person can no longer function independently. However, vital body functions are maintained by an artificial support system that ensures blood circulation to vital organs long enough to enable organ harvesting and donation. People who experience brain dead can also donate their tissues.

Regulations and Legal Process of Organ Donation in India

In India, the government has laid down rules that brain death should be certified by a panel of doctors before organ harvesting can begin. The panel consists of four doctors and the certification needs to be done twice with a gap of 6 hours. The doctors in the panele include -
  1. Doctor in charge of the hospital (medical superintendent)
  2. Doctor treating the patient
  3. Doctor nominated from a panel of doctors appointed by the appropriate authority
  4. Neurologist/neurosurgeon/intensive care doctor nominated from a panel appointed by the appropriate authority
Organs must be harvested or removed from the donor as soon as possible after brain death has been certified, and blood flow to vital organs is being maintained artificially. Tissues should be removed by 12 to 24 hours.

A waiting list of recipients for receiving organs is maintained in a register with the state or national authority that is responsible for deciding to which patient on the waiting patient the organ should be allocated. This is pre-determined on an agreed system of organ sharing by various stakeholders in the program.

In India, even if a person has consented and carries a Donor Card, in the event of his/her death, the family still needs to consent for donation of organs. Family consent is essential to harvest the organs of a brain dead person in India. India follows informed consent procedure.

Types of Organ Donation

Live Related Donation - A living person who is a relative such as parent, sibling, spouse, child or grand-parents can voluntarily donates an organ (or part of an organ) for transplantation to another person. The main advantage of this method is a good match and hence better graft survival and less waiting for an organ.

Live Unrelated Donation – The donor is someone who is emotionally attached to the recipient, such as a relative, close friend, a neighbour or an in-law who is living but not a blood relation. However they have to appear in front of a government authorisation committee and convince the members of the committee that there are no commercial motives in donation and the act is altruistic.

Deceased/Cadaver Organ Donation - The sick patient has to register in a hospital that performs transplants following which the patient will be put on a waitlist. When the organ from a suitable “brain-dead” donor is available, the patient and his family will be informed. This process may take a while and not all waiting patients are able to get an organ.

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