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Organ Donation: India performs the second largest number of transplants in the world, but it lags behind several European and American countries in the donation rate. An expert explains why.

Lakhs of people die annually in India due to lack of donor organs. Less than one per million population in India are willing to donate their organs. The prevalence of myths about organ donation and lack of awareness among people about the process of donation are preventing people from becoming organ donors. Speaking to the HealthSite on the occasion of Organ Donation Day, Dr. Sashi Kiran A, Consultant Nephrologist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad, throws light on the challenges the country is facing in terms of organ donation and transplantation, as well busted some common myths surrounding the topic. Excerpts:

Q. What are the organs that can be donated?

A variety of organs and tissues can be donated by a deceased donor. The most common organs transplanted by a deceased donor are kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, heart valves and corneas. The other organs include intestine, pancreas, bones, skin, uterus and limbs.

Living donor transplants include kidney, partial liver, partial lung, bone marrow and uterus transplants.

Also read: World Organ Donation Day: Tips To Take Care of Elderly Post Organ Transplantation

Q. In India, what are the most commonly transplanted organs?

The most commonly transplanted organs in India are corneas, kidneys, liver, bone marrow and heart.

Q. Can you throw light on some common myths surrounding organ donation and the facts?

Myths, misinformation and prejudices dampen altruism and promote skepticism. Listed below are some of the common myths and related facts:

Myth 1: If the hospital knows I am a potential organ donor they won’t save me.

Fact: Doctors do their best to save a patient. Organ donation is thought of only when brain death occurs. Most importantly the transplant team is different from the treating team.

Myth 2: I may recover from brain death.

Fact: Brain death is irreversible. The diagnosis of brain death is made only if stringent criteria is met.

Myth 3: Donor’s family is charged for donating the organs.

Fact: Donor family is never charged. If they feel so they can contact the local transplantation committee for clarification.

Myth 4: Only the rich and famous get organs.

Fact: Organ allocation system is blind to financial and social status. Organs are allocated purely on the basis of the severity of the recipient’s health status.

Also read: World Organ Donation Day: What Can Be Donated?

Myth 5: Religion precludes organ donation.

Fact: Most religions don’t. One may clarify this with their concerned religious authority when needed.

Myth 6: Only the deceased can donate the kidney.

Fact: Organ donation can be both from a deceased donor and for a few organs from a healthy living donor.

Don’t miss: Five important things to know about the new opt out organ donation law

Q. What, according to you, are the major challenges facing India in terms of organ transplantation and donation?

Although India performs the second largest number of transplants in the world, it lags behind several European and American countries in the donation rate. According to the WHO statistics, only 0.01% of Indians donate their organs.

Ignorance and prejudice continue to be the main challenges in organ transplantation in India. It’s a herculean task to overcome these challenges with the many ethical, some philosophical and very few practical strategies offered by the intellectual community. Listed below are the major challenges :-

  • Fears concerning the diagnosis of brain death. A sense of being cheated is often noticed in the family of the deceased donor particularly when they are self paying the medical bills.
  • Belief that the organs would first go to the rich and influential and only rarely to the poor.
  • Stories in the media about criminal organ commerce.
  • Religious belief that the integrity of body is mandatory for the path to eternity
  • Questionable Legal binding power of the donor card when a family member refuses to harvest organs from a deceased donor.
  • Socio-economic status is a big hurdle. Government hospitals need to perform organ transplants in substantial numbers for making this accessible to the low socioeconomic people.
  • Organ trafficking in living donor transplantation.
  • Fragmented health care system and ignorance about organ donation among primary physicians.

Every year, 13th of August is observed as World Organ Donation Day to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation and motivate people to donate organs after death. Become an organ donor and help save lives. One organ donor can save up to eight lives.

This post first appeared on The Health Site

Last Updated on August 18, 2021 by shalw

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