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ORGAN DONATION IN INDIA – INSIGHT & OVERVIEW

Organ donation is one of  the latest and the most significant scientific advancements in the field of medical science we have today. It is indeed a medical marvels of the twentieth century that saved the lives of several patients. But, the disparity between the huge demands for organs and their poor supply is the main issue.

Why is organ donation important?

There is an overwhelming need of organ donation in India. India‘s organ donation rate stands at an dismal 0.65 per million population (PMP). Less than one per million Indians opt to donate their organ, which is the lowest globally.

On average, about half a million Indians die annually for want of organs. There is an extreme shortage of organs for end-stage organ failure patients. As per the National Organ & Tissue Transplantation Organization (NOTTO), nearly:

  1. 200,000 corneal donations are needed annually, while only 50,000 corneas are donated annually – 3 out of 4 people awaiting corneal donation remain visually impaired
  2. 500,000 people need an organ transplantation every year and many of them die due to non-availability of organs.
  3. While 200,000 kidneys, 50,000 hearts and 50,000 livers are required for transplantation, only 1634 kidneys, 339 hearts and 708 livers are available for transplantation.

What is organ donation?

Organ donation is a medical transplant procedure wherein the dysfunctional organs or tissues of a person are replaced by an organ donated by  a healthy person or a deceased organ donor.

In other words, organ donation is the donation of biological tissue or an organ of the human body from a living or dead person to a living recipient in need of transplantation.

Organ donations are generally received from either deceased persons or living donors. Living donors can also donate organs which include donating one kidney, a portion of the liver, lung, pancreas, intestines and blood, and still continue to live a normal life. Organ donation allows living donors to return to a healthy lifestyle with no dependency for survival.

Who can donate?

Every individual is considered as a potential organ and tissue donor – regardless of health, age, race, or ethnicity. So, don’t rule yourself out! No one is too young or too old to be an organ donor.

Types of Organ Donation

There are two types of organ donation –

  1. Living Organ Donation: A living donation is organ transplant procedure in which a living person can donate one kidney, a portion of the liver and pancreas. This offers an alternative for individuals waiting for an organ from a deceased (dead) donor, and it also increases the number of organs available, saving more lives.Living donors can be spouses, friends, family members etc
  2. Deceased Organ Donation: If living organ donation is not an option, a part of the organ or the organ can be donated at the time of the donor’s death..

For deceased organ donation, the potential donor must be in the hospital, on a ventilator and pronounced brain dead. It is very important to note, that deceased organ donation is possible only after all attempts to save the patient have been tried, and brain death was declared and there are specific protocols for the same.

Who can Pledge for Organ Donation?

Any adult aged 18 years or above can register or pledge to donate his/her organs after brain death by signing a donor card. A transplant team decides the suitability of each tissue and organ at the time of brain death.

What is Brain Death?

In patients with brain death, head injury, brain tumour or stroke may result in irreversible or irreparable damage to the brain; in other words, the brain dies. But, the heart continues to beat for some time or some days. Such a condition is called brain death. Although the heart is still beating, a declared brain dead patient is medically and legally termed dead and cannot recover.

How many organs and tissues can be donated?

A single brain dead donor (non-living beating-heart donor) can save lives by donating the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and small bowel. Besides, once the heart stops beating, many tissues like heart valves, cornea, ear bones, eardrums, tendons and skin can also be donated.

Awareness of Organ Donation

Organ donation is considered to be the noblest act of humanity. Becoming an organ donor means giving one of the most precious gifts of all – the gift of life. A single individual can give up to nine people the gift of life. Yes. That’s right, your donation can save up to nine lives, and by donating your eye and tissues, you can improve the lives of up to 50 people.

There are several agencies (private, government and NGOs) where one can pledge to donate organs. The pledge is not country, state or hospital specific. At the time of brain death, when the donor is on a ventilator, the hospital team approaches the family for organ donation.

Making a pledge to donate organs and tissues is not mandatory for any person,  but it does help the potential donor’s family to make the right decision. Therefore, it is important for the organ donor to share his/her decision with the family members.

The Brighter Side

According to a study, the number of transplantations performed annually has been rising gradually. As per 2018 updates in transplant trends by NOTTO, about 7936 kidney transplants, 1945 Liver transplants, 241 heart transplants, 191 lung transplants, 25 pancreas and two small bowel transplants were performed.

Currently, about 5000 kidneys, 1000 livers, and approximately 50 hearts are transplanted in India annually.

Below are some factors the helped increase the rate of organ donation in India

  1. Support of media in promoting the organ donation cause in India
  2. Rise in the count of trained transplant coordinators in the programme
  3. Awareness among the general public and their support towards organ donation
  4. Role of NGOs in helping with capacity building and creating awareness among the general public and in the hospitals.
  5. Intensive care specialists who have been supportive of the organ donation cause.

Conclusion

However, India still shows a poor organ donation rate compared to the other countries. Nevertheless, increasing awareness on organ donation, the availability of resources, infrastructure and medical expertise are sure to propel India into a new phase of organ donation.

For further assistance and insight, log on to www.apollohospitals.com

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