Over five lakh people die in India every year from the unavailability of organs since very few people choose to donate them. World Organ Donation Day, celebrated annually on August 13, aims to create awareness around this issue and encourage more potential donors to save lives. Organ donation requires a person’s consent to donate their healthy organs for the patient in question. The donor can be living or deceased at the time of donation.
Kidney transplants are needed the most, followed by transplants of the liver, heart, lungs, pancreas, intestine, and eyes and tissues. Below, we discuss whether organ donation is safe for everyone and how they can proceed to donate.
Is it safe for everyone to donate?
Those who have healthy vital organs at the time of death can become successful donors. Those suffering from active cancers, HIV, diabetes, impaired vital organs and other infections are not suitable, with some exceptions. Living organ donors can suffer from post-surgery complications, such as infections, bleeding, clots, pain, pneumonia, tissue injury, allergic reaction, and in rare cases, death. Donors must discuss all such possibilities with their surgeons beforehand.
How to become an organ donor?
Potential donors can register themselves on the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO), Government of India website. As noted on the National Health Portal of India (NHP) website, those alive can pledge their organs. They will receive a donor card as acknowledgement. The consent can be withdrawn later by the patient or their family members after their demise.
Only those declared brain dead are suitable for harvesting their kidneys, heart, liver, intestines and pancreas. Those 18 years or older can become registered organ donors. Donors under 18 need the consent of parents or appointed guardians.
Living donors can donate one of their kidneys, one lung, and partials of their liver, pancreas or intestine. Blood type and tissue matches between donors and recipients are a must. Consent is obtained from family members, the coroner and other legal authorities.