In India around 5 lakh patients need an organ transplant, every year, and this need is growing annually. However, the demand is more than the supply as irrespective of the continuous awareness undertaken by the government, people are still hesitant or have misconceptions in regard to donation. The country’s organ donation rate is 1.6 per million and globally this is very low compared to some of the western countries.
Also, the pandemic reduced the donation rate further due to multiple reasons like, smaller number of cadaver eligible for transplants due to infection, lack of resources, fear of the transmission of the virus through donation etc.
There are two ways in which a person is eligible to donate their organs– a person who is healthy and wishes to donate part of liver or one kidney to their loved ones, this is called living donation. Second one is known as cadaver donation – a brain dead person can donate heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, pancreas and tissues. Brain dead is a condition in which there is irreversible and permanent damage to the brain due to an accident, bleed in the brain due to burst of blood vessels. Doctors conduct certain special tests in such patients to prove them brain dead.
Legally brain dead is a death just like cardiac heath, wherein the heart stops. These patients cannot survive, as the brain controls the whole body and thus, they become eligible to donate their organs. Next of kin of brain-dead person has to give consent to be eligible for organ donation. Such patients can save life of around nine patients who are in need of an organ.
Brain death is certified by two sets of doctors who conduct tests at least twice six hours apart. Once a person is certified as brain dead, legally and medically he is dead and cannot be revived.
Post registration the person is given a donor card signifying that they wish to donate organs, tissues etc. in the future. The card is not a legally binding document, instead, it is an expression of a person’s willingness to be a donor. During the time of organ donation, the family of a patient has a right to make the final decision on whether to donate organs or not.
As mentioned before finally it is consent of next of kin of brain-dead person which matters. So, it is necessary we not only get ourselves registered as organ donor, but we also let our family members know that it is our wish to be an organ donor. This will help family in making decision if need arises.
So, the need of the hour is to boost organ donation in India and save as many lives as possible. Citizens, healthcare providers and various support organizations need to spread awareness and eliminate myths & fears associated with organ donation.
Senior Consultant & Chief Surgeon