In the country with the 2nd largest population in the world, every 12 minutes, one more patient is added to the organ donation waiting list. If recent reports are to be believed, India has a very poor deceased organ donation rate of just 0.26 per million population, as compared to 26 in the United States and 36.5 in Croatia. The extremely low figures indicate that not many people are still aware of the importance of organ transplants

What is organ donation?

By far, organ donation has been one of the most spectacular scientific success to take place. It has helped and continues to save the lives of several patients. However, there is a sharp difference between the rising demand and diminishing supply of organs. 

While it may seem like a too complex term in itself, organ donation is nothing but simply a process of procuring or retrieving one or more organs from the body of either alive or deceased individual (donor). In medical terms, this process is also called as harvesting. The organ thus retrieved from the donor is transplanted into an individual (recipient) who is in need of that organ. 

What parts of the body can be donated?

Usually, there is a severe need for internal organs like the heart, intestines, liver, kidneys, lungs, and pancreas. Most of the donation of organs and tissues is possible right after the donor has died. On the other hand, some organs and tissues can be donated while the donor is still alive, regardless of their health. 

Cornea (the clear part of the eye just above the pupil and iris) too can be donated. Unlike in the case of organ donation, when the organs need to be retrieved right after the death, corneas can be retrieved many hours after death. They can also be stored. Tissues not only help in saving a life but also enhance the quality of life of the recipient. Tissue donation can make a striking difference in the lives of up to 50 people at once. 

Similarly, an individual can also go ahead and donate their hands, face, blood, and platelets to help beautify the life of someone who is at immediate fatal risks. 

Can organ transplant help save a life in case of brain death?

Brain death is the actual death of a person. Brain death occurs when the brain is not able to function anymore and the condition cannot be treated even with organ donation and transplantation. It usually takes place due to causes like serious trauma, brain injury, and when the blood is not able to reach the brain. 

How is the scenario in India?

Although there are several loopholes, organ transplant numbers are slowly rising in India. Lack of awareness among people is one of the main reasons as to why there is still a huge gap between the demand and supply of organs. Doctors say that each year, there is a need of approximately 200,000 kidneys, 50,000 hearts, and 50,000 livers for transplantation. 

How you can help?

Organ donation is one of the greatest acts of kindness towards humanity. Be a part of it and help save a life today. Any individual who is interested and willing to donate their organs needs to fill out a donor consent form (easily available online on the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, website of Government of India). Moreover, you can also help by spreading organ donation awareness in the society, pledging your organs, and motivating your friends and family to pledge their organs.