Organ Donation: The Gift of Life

Admin September 26, 2019

Organ failure is a global public health issue, and organ transplantation is a lifesaving treatment option. The average waiting time for a transplant from a deceased donor is over three years in many countries. Organ donation can transform the lives of many people. 

Organ donation is giving an organ to someone else who needs a transplant. Organs can be procured from the deceased as well as living donors. A deceased donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation. 

Organs and tissues that can be donated:

  • Kidneys
  • Cornea
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Heart Valves
  • Bone
  • Bone Marrow
  • Skin
  • Intestine
  • Ligament

 

Deceased Donors are individuals whose organs and/or tissues are donated at the time of their death. Organs are procured only after the donor’s brain death is confirmed. Brain death is a legal definition of death; it is the complete stopping of all brain functions and cannot be reversed. Brain death occurs due to extreme and serious trauma or injury to the brain, the body's blood supply to the brain is blocked, and the brain dies.

Living donation means surgically remove an organ or portion of an organ from a living person and place it in another person whose organ is no longer functioning properly. Living donation is possible in cases of kidney, liver or bone marrow transplant.

Direct donation is the most common type of living-donor organ donation. In this type of living-donor organ donation, the donor directs the organ to a specific recipient for transplant. The recipient may be a relative or a friend in most cases.

Non-direct donation: The match is based on medical need and blood type compatibility. Paired-organ donation and donation chain allow more people a chance to get organs where direct donor transplant is impossible. 

Paired donation/exchange involves two living donors and two recipients. If the recipient from one pair is compatible with the donor from the other pair and vice versa– the transplant center may arrange for two simultaneous transplants to take place. This allows two transplant candidates to receive organs and two donors to give organs while the original recipient/donor pairs were unable to do so with each other.  

Donation chain involves several pairs of incompatible living donors and recipients may be linked with a non- directed living donor to form a donation chain in order to receive compatible organs. 

Legal and ethical implications

Informed consent is needed from the donor or from a family member of deceased donor for organ donation.

Donor card:  signing the 'Donor Card' means a person has agreed to donate organs after death.

Organ trafficking is the trade of human organs, tissues, or other body products, usually for transplantation; is an illegal act.

Organ transplant legislation dictates fair, equitable and non-discriminatory allocation of organs to suitable recipients

Myths and facts about donation

Myths

Facts

I am not in good health, so I can't be a donor.

Anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor. The transplant team will determine at an individual's time of death whether the donation is possible.

Organ donation is not supported by my religion

All religions consider a donation as the final act of love and generosity toward others.

If I agree to donate my organs, at the hospital, they won't try to save my life.

When you are sick or injured and admitted to a hospital, the priority is to save your life.

Rich or famous people on the waiting list get organs faster.

The factors used in matching include blood type, time spent waiting, other important medical information, how sick the person is, and geographic location.

People can buy and sell organs

Organ trafficking is a punishable offense

 

If I am in a coma, they could take my organs.

Deceased organ donors are patients who have been declared brain dead. Brain death is NOT the same as coma. People can recover from comas, but not from brain death. Brain death is final.

My family will have to pay for the donation.

By law, there is no cost to donors or their families for organ or tissue donation.

Organ and tissue donation will disfigure my body.

Donated organs are removed surgically; since the donor's body is dressed for burial, signs of organ or tissue donation will not be visible.

References:

1. Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle: Consumer Health, available online: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/organ-donation/art-20047529  accessed on 9/18/2019.

2. National Kidney Foundation, Organ Donation, available online: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/orgdonor, accessed on 9/18/2019.

3. World Health Organization, Human Organ Transplantation, available online: https://www.who.int/transplantation/organ/en accessed on 9/20/2019.

 

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