I read the other day an article in the national dailies about how a family donated their son’s organs after his death. Their son was only 16 when he passed away in an accident. He was his parent’s only son, and in spite of the grief, the parents took the decision of donating the organs.
Maybe because they are both doctors, they realize the importance of organ donation. It is like giving affected people a second lease of life. This boy’s liver, kidneys, cornea and heart were all harvested at the hospital where he was brought after the accident.
What is organ donation? Why is it so important? Can organs be harvested from live persons or are they harvested only from dead bodies? When and how are they harvested? What are the organs that can be harvested and used?
Organ donation is the removal of tissues of the human body from a person who has recently died or from a living donor for the purpose of transplanting. Organs that can be procured include the heart, intestines, kidneys, lungs, liver, and pancreas. These are procured from a brain dead person, or a donor where the family has given consent for donation after cardiac death, known as non -heart beating donation.
The following tissues can be procured: bones, tendons, corneas, heart valves, femoral veins, great sephenous veins, small sephenous veins, pericardium, skin grafts and sclera. These are only procured after death.
Organs that can be donated from living donors are part of liver or pancreas and kidneys.
To protect the recipient from infection, stringent tests and safety measures are adopted. It is important to make sure that an organ to be transplanted should not have any infection. This could be passed on the recipient. Organs from a patient with cancer, HIV+ or infectious disease are not taken for transplant. Though a HIV+ person’s organ can be used in another HIV+ recipient. Also the diseased organs can be donated for research purposes.
Not many are aware of the importance of organ donation. Donation from a live donor is considered very risky. But when the surgical procedure is done properly, the donor or the recipient is not affected. Normally kidneys are donated from a live donor. Generally it is done within families. Siblings’ kidneys are the best for transplant. There is less chance of rejection of the new organ by the recipient’s body.
But organ donation does lead to financial exploitation. The donors are offered less money if they are poor and ignorant. There have been lots of kidney rackets where the poor are targeted. Also the ignorant are taken in for kidney removal without consent. They are offered some money and not given any postoperative care.
Some doctors were also involved in this scam. This is because the waiting list of recipients is long and so some people are willing to shell out money for a kidney transplant. The demand for kidneys is the largest. And when people are desperate, they will resort to underhand means. Anything, just to stay alive.
Many prominent people including film stars have signed up and have donor cards; they have given consent for organ donation. Once you get registered as a donor, make sure you inform your family of your intentions. This will ensure less hassles and successful harvesting can be done.
If more and more people come forward to donate organs, then black market and illegal methods adopted to get an organ will be abandoned. People will go through the proper legal channels to avail of organs.
Just like blood donation, organ donation is a noble act. It will give someone a second chance for life. Think it over and see if you too can join the growing number of people who have signed up to donate their organs. You can contact MOHAN (Multi-Organ Harvest Aid Network) Foundation.