Organ Donation

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Organ Donation

Millions of people across the globe lose their lives due to organ failure. The good news is that you can save up to nine lives through organ donation.

What is organ donation?

Organ donation means that ‘a person during his life time pledges that after his/her death, organs from his/ her body can be used for transplantation to help critically ill patients giving them a new lease of life.’

Who can donate organs?

Organ donors can be living or deceased (cadaveric donors).

Living donors can donate only few organs –
  • Only one of their kidneys (as one kidney can sufficiently maintain the body functions).
  • A portion of pancreas (as half the pancreas is adequate for sustaining pancreatic functions).
  • A part of the liver (as the liver has the capacity to regenerate after a period of time).
On the other hand, cadaveric donors or the ‘brain dead’ persons can donate all the organs listed above as well as the heart and tissues. Brain death is ‘when the brain can no longer send messages to the body to perform vital functions like breathing, sensation, obeying commands etc.’ Such persons are kept in artificial life support (ventilation), so that the organs get oxygen to be in a healthy condition until they are removed. Most cases of brain death are the end-result of head injuries or terminally ill brain tumor patients from intensive care units.

What organs and tissues can be donated?

Tissues that can be donated: Bone tissue, skin tissue, connective tissue, heart tissue (including heart valves), vascular tissue and corneas.

Organs that can be donated: whole organs such as the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs and pancreas.

What is the difference between tissue and organ donation?

The donor can donate both his/her organs and tissue if criteria for both are met. However, there are a few differences between donating an organ and donating a tissue.
  • Solid organs like heart, lungs, liver, kidney and others that are critical for life can be donated when the donor is declared "brain dead" in a hospital setting while the heart is still beating. But, tissue can be recovered up from 6 to 24 hours after death no matter where the donor dies.
  • One organ donor can help up to nine people, and a tissue donor can benefit more than 50 lives.
  • Organ transplants have to be type-matched (by checking the compatibility for transplants through blood tests and tissue type matching), but tissue transplants do not have to be type-matched.

Why donate? – The state of organ transplant in India

The government of India has enacted the Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994, which legalizes brain death and provides regulations related to the retrieval, storage and transplantation of human organs. However, there is a huge gap in the demand and supply of human organs and tissues, primarily due to lack of awareness and acceptance of brain death in the society.

Some facts:
  • Every year, 1.5 lakh corneas are required but only 38,000 are transplanted.
  • Every year, 1–1.5 lakh kidneys are required but only 3,500-4000 are transplanted.
  • Every year, 15,000-20,000 livers are required but only 500 are transplanted.
Organ donation is a gift that can give a second chance at life to many people. Donate through informed choice.

The recent amendment of the law in India makes it compulsory to ask for organs in the event of brain death in the intensive care ( Required Request).

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