Introduction: What is Organ Donation?
Organ Donation is the process by which a person living or dead can give some of their organs away entirely or in part to other people who need an organ transplant to stay alive. Organ Donation is considered to be a very noble and humanitarian deed. In some critical case, it can basically be the equivalent of giving someone a new lease at life.
Thus one of the popular sayings has come to be Donate Organs, Donate Life. Also in some cases when there is no requirement for organs at that particular moment, an organ can be donated to the development of scientific breakthroughs and medical research as well. However, this is an area where there is some stigma attached to it and express permission must be granted first!
What Organs Can Be Donated?
Organs can be donated from both living and dead people. The organs that can be donated from a living person are a kidney, lung, portion of the liver, kidney or intestine. There are various other tissues that can be donated as well including but not limited to skin and bone marrow.
After death, there are even more organs that can be harvested including the heart, eyes and even in recent years hands and faces. It is no wonder that everyone is encouraged to become an organ donor. It is very important that while answering the question of what organs can be donated, that there is no upper age limit, anyone can become a donor.
How to Become an Organ Donor?
While there are a few forms to go through, in most countries, donating organs is pretty easy. There are various government hospitals one can visit or even websites where one can get themselves enlisted into the Organ Donor register.
Donating a kidney, a lung or part of some other organ for a relative or close associate is something that is often the last stage resort to save a person’s life as well. However donating organs for money is illegal and can be punished very heavily under the penal code of wherever such transactions have been made.
This is most common in kidney transplant cases where people try to buy other people’s organs often for astronomical sums of money. This, known as organ trafficking is punishable by law in almost all countries around the world but Iran is the only country where buying and selling kidneys is legal.
Can You Become an Organ Donor Posthumously?
Even after death, with the agreement of spouses and other living descendants, a person can be harvested for their organs. So while the instances of living kidney donor can be slim to none especially if there are no matches in the close family, most transplant patients count on people donating a kidney post their death. This is especially true for vital organs like eyes, hands, face and of course heart.
But the process is not as simple as just substituting one organ for another. Most times there are very rigorous tests to ensure that the organs are a match and the body doesn’t reject those organs. Thus despite the ability to save lives, major operations like kidney transplant or any other related transplants have a fairly high chance of going awry.
Organ donation is one of the miracles of modern medicine. And for some people, it is like being able to live beyond their lifespan by living vicariously although maybe as separate organs through someone else’s life.
In some cases, one might even go as far as to say that this is one of the examples of how technology brings about not just economic development but also a better standard of living. However, especially in some societies it does come with its stigmas and is even considered a sin.
While most of the times these can be attributed to lack of knowledge and holding on to values that no longer hold water in the modern world, the inherent risk of organ transplant for both the living donor and the recipient can never be undermined.
As such organ donation is a noble deed that should be used sparingly and mostly as a last resort. Wrapping it up in the words of the famous Hollywood superstar George Clooney,
I think you should automatically donate your organs because that would turn the balance of organ donation in a huge way. I would donate whatever anybody would take, and I’d probably do the cremation bit.