Every year, in India alone, 250,000 people need a kidney transplant, 80,000 a liver transplant, 50,000 a heart transplant, and 100,000 a cornea transplant. These statistics keep growing as a result of the increasing number of organ failures that are rampant in the human life cycle. Please note these are only estimates, based on known requests, since there is no organised data available in India.
So you reckon that you’ll register yourself as an organ donor, and even if some of us do, the numbers can be met. After all in a 1.336 billion strong nation, it is not impossible. Wrong.
There are only handfuls of us who die under circumstances which keep our organs and tissues intact and of any use to another. In all likelihood the goodies within us on our death beds may either have fallen apart because of damage, age, or disease. And nope, this is not a phenomenon typical to a developing country. In the US, 22 people die every day while waiting for a transplant. On the other hand what if, when we died, we had our organs still in perfect functioning order? Why turn them into dust or ashes, when they could be gifted to another human being, to give them a new life.
The fact is the world needs more registered potential donors to pledge their organs and tissues on their death to those suffering from end-stage organ failure or in need of tissue transplants. It is that simple.
I first heard about organ donation and the story of Nicholas Green whilst travelling through Italy, many moons back. Nicholas, a seven-year-old American boy was shot down by bandits in Italy on a family vacation. It was 1994. In response, his mother donated his internal organs to seven Italians waiting for organ transplants. This led to a legislation in Italy which automatically donates all internal organs upon death unless a card is found on the body which specifically forbids one to do so. And like often happens in life, from a negative painful event a new positive beginning was promised.
On my return back home, I registered with the Organ Donor Foundation in South Africa, where I then lived. When I moved to India, I registered as an organ and tissue donor with NOTTO. Both countries offer simple seamless processes, like I am sure all organisations working in this area, worldwide, do. I keep the card on me at all times coz life is unpredictable. 🙂
As we enter the festive/ holy season with Diwali, Muharram, Yom Kippur, Guru Nanak Gurpurab, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, we’ll be splurging on gifts for our loved ones. Why not pledge a gift, no amount of money can buy and more dear than life, to humanity? Pledge an organ or tissue this year. Pledge life. What say?
Below are some frequently asked questions on organ and tissue donation. Hope they help. For more information visit your country’s national organ donation organisation if you too would like to gift a life:
What is deceased donor organ donation?
In deceased donor organ donation, organs and tissues are donated after brain-stem/ cardiac death. Your organs continue to live on in another person’s body. For privacy and legal reasons, donors and recipients are not identified.
Who can be a deceased organ/ tissue donor?
Anybody, regardless of age, race or gender can be a donor and donate their organs and tissues. No medical tests are required on registration. Medical suitability for donation is determined at the time of death only.
How does one become an organ/ tissue donor?
You will need to fill up a form and register with the authorised organisation in your country, after which a card will be issued to you to keep with you at all times. You will also need to inform your family of your decision for their consent will be required at the time of donation.
Which organs can be donated?
Your heart, liver, and pancreas can save three lives and your kidneys and lungs can help up to four people.
Which tissues can be donated?
Your corneas, skin, bone, tendons, and heart valves can help up to 50 people.
Are there any costs involved in donating organs/ tissues?
No. There are no costs involved in donating organs and tissues. Trade in organs and tissue is prohibited worldwide.
Will organ/ tissue donation disfigure my dead body?
No. The surgical process does not change the way the body looks nor does it cause any delays to the funeral.
Are there any religious objections to organ/ tissue donation?
No. None of the world’s major religions object to the donation of organs and tissues.
Can I change my mind and un-pledge after pledging?
Yes. You can un-pledge by availing the opt-out option. Also, you will need to inform your family that you have changed your mind regarding your organ/ tissue donation pledge.
– – –
Happy giving. Gift a life. ❤
Note: The above post forms part of my blog’s Giving Back series which explores giving back initiatives in India.