Organ Donation: The Gift For Life

Most of us in India are not very receptive to the idea of organ donation. In fact it is the last thing on anybody’s mind on losing a loved one. A recent news item therefore created quit a buzz wherein the family of a young handsome 22 year boy who became brain dead after an unfortunate accident, volunteered to donate all his organs. Dr Arti Vij of Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation (ORBO) said, "Usually, it's we who have to persuade the family of brain-dead patients, but Anmol's family was unique - they didn't need any convincing”. The ORBO team got to work fast and retrieved all of Anmol's organs to save 34 lives at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi.

His father, Mr. Juneja says, “"My son won't come back, but he is alive in 34 people," This attitude is remarkable especially in India where organ donation is culturally not well received. Many people believe in life after death and believe in the myth that donating an organ would lead to having that body part missing in the next life. By giving the example of Anmol’s family, people needs to be educated that organ donation is in fact the biggest ‘daan’ or charity. The blessings one gets from the thankful recipients and their families make it one of the noblest and most altruistic acts anybody can perform.

As you read this, lakhs of people are desperately waiting for a liver, kidney, heart or other organ. It is estimated that 200,000 kidneys and 100,000 livers are needed every year in India and only about 2-3% get it. In fact, India has the worst record in organ donation. Just one out of a million are donors in India. There is a huge shortage of organs that can save people's lives after being transplanted.

About 90,000 Indians die in road accidents every year. 40% of those people are left ‘brain dead’. It is estimated that 50% of all organ donation needs can be met by using organs from road accident causalities. However, for this to happen, a very high level of awareness has to be created among people. In cities like Mumbai, Chandigarh and Bangalore local governments are planning to have driving licenses double as donor cards.

It is to be noted that there are two types of donation: living organ donation and cadaver donations. Organ transplants are only permitted when the donor is dead. This includes brain death like in Anmol’s case. Brain death is the condition when all the functions of the human brain have come to a permanent end. When considering organ-transplantation, it is especially important to have the organs as alive as possible, so that the organs can resume their functions in the body of the recipient. Living organ donation is only permitted for paired organs, such as a kidney or a lung, where the donor can survive with just one. Also living donors can donate fluids and tissues that will regenerate, such as blood, bone marrow, & parts of livers. All other donations are from cadavers—donors who are dead.

A look at the FAQs

Who can donate an organ?

Anybody, any age can donate an organ, provided that they don’t have cancer, HIV or a severely spreading infection. In Haldwani, the eyes of a 6 day baby who died were donated by her parents.

What organs can be donated?

Organs that can be donated are heart, kidney, pancreas, lungs liver and small intestine. Other than that tissues can be donated. Tissues that can be donated are cornea, skin, tendons, heart valves, blood vessels, bone and bone marrow.

What does one have to do to become an organ donor?

Fill out an organ donation card and inform your family about it.

Where can one register in Dehradun?

At present there is one NGO working actively in this field in Dehradun. Please click the link for contact details: Moksh Deh Dan Samiti