The need of organ donation has never been greater than in today’s times. More than half a million Indians are estimated to be in dire need of an organ transplant.
What is an Organ Donation?
Know the importance of organ transplants to understand organ donation. A transplant is a medical procedure where one person’s dysfunctional organ or tissue is replaced by that of a healthy person. In certain cases, despite major advances in the medical world, transplant is the only option available for the patient. Transplants drastically improve the quality of life of the patient and give them another chance to live.
An estimate indicates that in India alone annually about 5 lakh people die every year because of non availability of organs. Another shocking statistic is that 90% of the people in the waiting list die without getting an organ. Almost anyone can donate organs regardless of their age. One organ donor can save up to 8 lives and heal the lives of 75 through a tissue donation.
What are the different types of Organ Donation?
In organ donation, a person pledges during her/his lifetime, that after death, certain (or all) organs from the body can be used for transplantation to help terminally ill patients get a new lease of life. With recent advances in transplantation, people of all ages and medical histories can donate organs. However, the final call on the organs and tissue that can be donated is taken only after doctors analyze the donor’s medical condition.
- Living Donation – Living donation takes place when a living person donates an organ (or part of an organ) for transplantation to another person. The living donor can be a family member, such as a parent, child, brother or sister, grandparent or grandchild (living related donation). It can also come from someone who is emotionally related to the recipient, such as a good friend, a relative, a neighbour or an in-law. (living unrelated donation)
- Deceased cadaver donation – The patient has to register in a hospital that does transplants. The patient will be put on a wait list.As and when the organ from an appropriate deceased donor (brain death) is available, the patient will be intimate.
Some of the conditions in which transplant is needed:
1. Structural abnormality – Some individuals are born with an abnormality like a congenital heart defect. Biliary Atresia is one the most common reasons why a child might need a liver transplant – it is because the bile duct has failed to develop.
2. Born with a Disease – Diseases such as cystic fibrosis may cause an organ to fail.
3. Developed an illness – Some people are unlucky enough to contract a disease that could result in an organ failure.
What organs and tissues can be transplanted?
- Middle ear
- Bone marrow
- Heart valves
- Connective tissue
- Vascularized composite allografts (transplant of several structures that may include skin, bone, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue)
Why India sees a shortage of Organ donors:
- There is a major lack of awareness about organ donation in India.
- A major reason for the shortage of organs is that many people have not recorded their wish about organ donation or discussed it with their families. After the death of the individual the families decision is considered as final.
- Certain myths and misconceptions about organ donation discourage potential donors from making the decision to donate organs or tissue after death.
Who can be an organ donor?
People of all ages should consider themselves potential donors. When a person dies, he or she is evaluated for donor suitability based on their medical history and age. The Organ Procurement Agency determines medical suitability for donation.
Who decides the candidate eligible for a transplant?
The organ is offered first to the transplant centre with the candidate who is the best match. The transplant team decides if it will accept or refuse the organ based on established medical criteria, medical urgency, and other factors like patient availability and organ transportation.
If the transplant centre refuses the organ, the transplant centre of the next patient on the list is contacted and the process continues until the organ is placed. Organs are distributed locally first; if no match is found, they are offered regionally and then nationally.
Some things about Organ Donation:
- Anyone can be an organ donor irrespective of age, caste, religion, community, current or past medical condition. Children can also be organ donors after taking consent for organ donation from their parents.
- However certain diseases like active cancer, active HIV, active infection have restrictions. Patients suffering from Hepatitis B and C also have some limitations.
- Vital organs like heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, and pancreas can be donated only in case of ‘brain death’.
- However other tissues like corneas, heart valves, skin, bones etc can be donated only in case of natural death.