Donating an organ is a wonderful deed any human can ever do. It saves the life of the donor recipient and changes the life of the donor. It is a heart-warming moment when a family makes the life-changing decision to allow a dying loved one to become an organ and tissue donor. But is donating an organ as easy as it is perceived? There are many variables to be considered before and after the organ transplantation process, as it risks two lives; the donor’s and the recipient’s. The donation process includes many do’s and don’ts and many pros and cons. It is a complicated yet an incredible process.
After death, donation occurs only when the donor dies because of two reasons, since these reasons allow doctors to harvest vital organs and tissue that can be used to save or improve the lives of others. The first reason for organ transplantation process should be when the brain stops functioning (neurological death), but the other functions remain operative. The second reason through which a donor can donate his/her organs is a cardio-circulatory death, in which life is not sustainable without a ventilator.
An organ transplantation process can last upto 24-36 hours which, sometimes, can extend as much as 48-72 hours in some cases. A donor can give upto eight organs: two lungs, two kidneys, heart, liver, pancreas and intestines, depending upon his/her health and type of death. Tissues such as corneas, heart valves, skin, bone, tendons and amniotic tissue can also be donated which can benefit 75 people in a single time. For tissue transplant, the tissues must be removed within 12-24 hours after death. once a family agrees to organ donation, medical personnel do everything they can to ensure viability of the organs to give them the best chance for successful transplantation.
Each organ extracted is on the clock once it has been removed, so time is essential to ensure that the patient is ready for transplantation as soon as possible. Hearts and intestines must be transplanted within 4 to 6 hours, while the kidney can remain viable for up to 12 to 24 hours after removal. Once the transplantation of the organ is done, the job isn’t over yet. Medication of anti-rejection is important for those who have had a transplant to ensure that the built-in defense mechanisms of the body do not harm the new organ. And they can expect years of physician follow-up to track the health of both the organ and the patient.
In most of the transplantation cases, there 80-90% chances of the patient to survive at least five years. In seven out of ten cases of lung transplants, the patients survive the five year mark and as for kidney recipients, both suitability and longevity of the organ increases if the kidney came from a living donor. During kidney transplants many patients are lucky enough to have a friend or acquaintance who’s a match for them and is willing to spare a kidney.And there is a second way within the living donors, which is a person we call an altruistic donor or non-direct donor, these are the people who have no relation to the patient and solely want to help someone in need. The donor as well as the recipient are put in nearby operating suites on the day of the surgery. This usually takes four to five hours to remove the kidney itself and will be transplanted into the recipient in 15 to 30 minutes. The surgery’s success rate is around 99 percent under normal conditions.
Before someone can become a living donor, applicants undergo a series of tests including examinations of physical, clinical and mental health. And in order for you to be accepted as a donor, you have to be approved in those three aspects.
The main aim of transplantation process is to restore the normal life of the patient. Many of them go back to work, whatever they did before their illness. It’s hard to predict, but usually after six months to a year they get back to where they were before they needed a transplant.