Presently, we live in a day and age where the current generation faces a lot of problems due to their evolving and highly stressful lifestyle, One alarming consequence of which is the reducing longevity of an average human being. The mortality rates have spiked tremendously over the past few years. Among the various causes contributing to the reduction of the lifespan of an individual, inability to conduct timely organ transplant operations is an important issue that needs to be addressed. It has been observed that each year, an increasing number of people, more precisely, 90% of the patients enlisted on a waiting list succumb to their illnesses while waiting for an organ transplant. A rise in the awareness levels pertaining to this issue, among the masses can bring about a positive change in the situation.
There are thousands of people who are waiting for a suitable donor for the organs of the human body. In India, the statistics pertaining to the need for organ donations, paint a very grim scenario. Approximately, 500,000 people die due to non-availability of organs. 200,000 people die of liver disease and 50,000 people die from heart disease. It has been estimated that out of the 150,000 people awaiting a kidney transplant, only 3,000 patients are actually able to get one.
These numbers reveal the severity of the situation that lies in front of us. A serious initiative needs to be undertaken by each one of us. What we need to realise is that each one of is a potential donor and if one decides, he/she can contribute to improving the current situation.
Here are a few facts that need to be understood about organ donation:
A living donation takes place when a living person donates an organ (or part of an organ) for transplantation to another person. This can be done by a family member or someone who is unrelated to the recipient, such as a friend, neighbor, in law. Thus, a living person can donate the following: blood, bone marrow, kidney, portion of liver, portion of lung and portion of pancreas.
Organ donation can also take place after the death of an individual with the consent of the family members. However, donation may only be considered after the person has been declared brain dead. This is because organs such as heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas, small intestines and lungs have the best chance of successful transplantation only when they have a constant supply of blood and oxygen which is ensured through the support of a ventilator.
In case an individual dies as a result of cardiac death, they can only be eligible for donation of tissues for transplantation. These include skin, bone, tendons, ligaments, heart valves, veins, arteries and cartilage.
It is essential that we realise that even after suffering from organ failure, one’s life can be saved by replacing the diseased organ with a healthy one. Successful organ transplants often enable individuals to return to their normal lifestyle thus giving them a second chance at life. It is why we need people to come forward and help save lives. It is an important choice that can be made by us. Our decision to donate an organ of our body can turn out to be the best gift that we can present to someone in need.
Dr. Neville A. Mehta
India, South Asia, Africa and Middle East
Lions Clubs International