An organ is a functional element of our body that is specialized to perform a specific function. E.g., lungs, heart, kidneys, intestines, pancreas, liver, etc. Tissue is a collection of cells that is specialized to perform a specific function. E.g., cornea of the eye, skin, heart valve, etc.
Organ donation is a process in which a healthy organ or organs are surgically removed from a living, or a deceased person (the organ donor) and is/are placed inside the recipient or a patient whose organ or organs have failed, damaged, or injured.
Organ donation is important because many people are dying while waiting for an organ. Due to limited number or organ donors, about 17 people are reported to die daily waiting for an organ. It is said that one person can save at least the lives of 6 to 8 people by donating organs such as lungs, heart, kidneys, intestines, pancreas, liver, etc.
Anyone who wish to donate organs can be a donor, regardless of age, or medical conditions. A multidisciplinary team of doctors will review your health condition and determined if you can donate. An organ or organs can be received from a living donor as well as a deceased donor (brain-dead).
The minimum criteria to become an organ donor includes:
Anyone who wish to donate organs can be a donor, regardless of age. However, as per the guidelines of Government of Maharashtra, anyone between 2 years to 65 years can donate organ or organs
A deceased donor is someone who has just died due to severe brain injury or brain haemorrhage (brain death or brain stem death). In such cases, the brain activity stops and the person will not be able to breathe without artificial life support, and hence he or she is legally declared as dead.
A multidisciplinary team of doctors including Neuro surgeon or Neuro physician, Intensivist or a physician, treating doctor, and the medical superintendent of the hospital are required to conduct a series of tests before confirming a patient is brain-dead or brain stem dead.
Before declaring a person dead, a series of tests are performed and his or her vital organs are kept functioning using an artificial support system. The decision to disconnect the support system and legally authorize the organ donation entirely lies with the family. After identifying a recipient for placement of an organ or organs, the organs and tissues are surgically removed in the operating room. The organs are preserved in a special solution. The ventilator or the artificial support is discontinued, and the donor’s body is surgically closed.
Time taken for transplanting organs from a donor to a patient or a recipient is critical and differs for each organ. For example, transplantation of organs like the heart and lungs, should be done within six hours, while the liver and kidney transplantation can occur within 12 hours and 36 hours respectively. Which is why it is important to choose a potential recipient closer to the donor.
You can become an organ donor by signing an organ donor card. The organ donor card is an expression of your willingness in becoming a donor, as well as a legal way of consenting for donating organs. If you are less than 18 years of age, make sure to inform your parents about your willingness to become an organ donor and obtain an agreement from them to be a donor. In case the donor is deceased, consent from the family or a guardian can be obtained before starting the organ donation process.
Buying or selling organs is strictly prohibited under the “Transplantation of Human Organs” act. This is a crime and is a punishable offence.
In India, people awaiting organ transplantation has outnumbered the donors due to lack of public awareness. Therefore, many are opting for commercial donors, although such transplants are discouraged. Most doctors facilitate such transplantations in order to save life.
Your organs are donated to a patient or a recipient based on several factors such as medical urgency, the longest time spent on the waiting list, location of the donor and the recipient, organ size, blood group, etc. This is referred to as non-directed donation. You can also specify who is to receive your donated organs. This is called as directed or designated donation and can be done for living, as well as for deceased donors.
Organ donation is a noble act of saving lives, and all major religions approve and support organ donation and transplantation.
Prevention is better than cure. Tips to prevent organ failure includes:
For organ donation, you can contact ‘Jeeva Sarthakathe’, which is a state governed body and the only organization in Karnataka through whom organ donations and transplants are co-ordinated. On receiving information about a potential donor, the organization will assess the donor’s suitability with the patients in the waiting list. They will also help the family of the donor with all the formalities if it is a medico-legal cas