August 13 is celebrated as World Organ Donation Day. We have all at some point in our lives heard about the benefits of organ donation, and many of us might have already signed up to become donors. However, there are many queries which persist in the minds of the people regarding this noble deed. Let us now answer some of the probable questions which people ask about this procedure, and hopefully, dispel the myths surrounding it, so more and more people can come forward to become donors and help others in dire need.
Question: Why should I become a donor?
Answer: In our country, there is a severe shortage of organ donors and a large number of deaths occur due to this. According to statistics, out of every one lakh potential donors, less than 200 actually sign up to become one. At any given time, there are many brain deaths declared in almost every major city of the country. The conversion of such cases into donors will help save the lives of many other people whose life is on the line. Therefore, it is essential that every person make a conscious decision to become an organ donor.
Question: Who is eligible to donate organs?
Answer: Any person over the age of 18 can voluntarily pledge to donate his/her organs for someone in need. Of course, some medical conditions like cancer, HIV, hepatitis C, diabetes, kidney disease or heart diseases can prevent one from becoming a living donor.
Question: Which organs can be donated?
Answer: You can donate your kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, pancreas and eyes.
Question: If I am registered as a donor, will saving my life be a priority in case I am admitted in the hospital?
Answer: Absolutely! When you are admitted to the hospital, the sole objective and priority of the doctors and other medical personnel is to save your life. Moreover, the doctors in charge of your treatment have nothing to do with the donation aspect, which is handled by an entirely different team.
Question: Am I healthy enough to be a donor?
Answer: Even if you are suffering from some illnesses and medical conditions, you can still sign up to be a donor. Thanks to advancements in the medical field, very few diseases stand in the way of a successful donation. The team in charge of carrying out the donation will determine the feasibility of donation after your death.
Question: Does my religion prevent me from becoming a donor?
Answer: Most of the world’s major religions support organ donation as they view it as an act of generosity and love towards fellow human beings, which also happens to be the essence of all the major religions.
Question: Should I take the decision for donating my organs or let my family decide?
Answer: A major reason for objections against organ donation is that in many cases, the families are not aware of the deceased individual’s wishes and intentions. A clear and open discussion amongst the family members will provide them with a sense of fulfilment and comfort in the knowledge that they did as their loved one wanted.
Question: Am I too old to be a donor?
Answer: Age is no barrier for donating the organs after an individual’s death. The factors considered for donation are the condition of the organs, waiting time period and the urgency of requirement. In fact, there have been many cases where people aged above 80 and even 90 have successfully donated their organs.
Question: Will it affect my last rites and cremation or burial?
Answer: Not at all! Organ donation is a highly specialised procedure which is performed by skilled surgeons. The body is treated with dignity and respect, and care is taken to ensure that no outward signs of disfigurement are visible. The appearance of the body is not changed and will not affect the performance of last rites of the individual.
Question: Will the rich and famous given preference for receiving organs?
Answer: The only factors considered for blood donation are the severity of illness, crucial medical information, waiting time etc. A person’s caste, colour, gender, financial and social status is absolutely irrelevant.
Question: Will it cost my family extra if I agree to donate my organs?
Answer: Organ donation does not involve any cost to the donor’s family and is done free of charge.
Question: Do I have a choice regarding which organs I’d like to donate?
Answer: You can explicitly mention which organs and/or tissues you’d like to donate after your death.
Question: Will my identity be withheld if I so desire?
Answer: If you wish, your identity will be kept a secret and not be revealed to anyone.
Question: Can I change my mind once I sign up to be a donor?
Answer: Yes. You always have the option of changing your decision by informing your family members and the registry.
Organ donation is a noble act which can save the lives of many people. It also provides the grieving family some solace that their loved one helped save other people’s lives. On this occasion of World Organ Donation Day 2018, let us pledge to become organ donors and commit ourselves to an immensely helpful and beneficial act.