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Organ Donation

Organ donation is the process of giving an organ or a part of an organ for the purpose of transplantation into another person.

In order for a person to become an organ donor, blood and oxygen must flow through the organs until the time of recovery to ensure viability. This requires that a person die under circumstances that have resulted in an irreparable neurological injury, usually from massive trauma to the brain such as aneurysm, stroke or automobile accident. Only after all efforts to save the patient’s life have been exhausted, tests are performed to confirm the absence of brain or brain stem activity, and brain death has been declared, is donation a possibility. The state donor registry is searched to determine if the patient has personally consented to donation. If the potential donor is not found on the registry, his or her legally authorized representative (usually a spouse, relative or close friend) is offered the opportunity to authorize the donation. Once the donation decision is established, the family is asked to provide a medical and social history. Donation professionals determine which organs can be transplanted and to which patients on the national transplant waiting list the organs are to be allocated.

Organ donation can occur with:

· A Deceased donor, who can give kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, intestinal organs
· A Living donor, who can give a kidney, or a portion of the liver, lung, intestine, or pancreas

Organ Donation In India

In 1994, the Government of India passed the Transplantation of Human Organs Act that legalized the concept of brain death and, for the first time, facilitated organ procurement from heart beating, brain dead donors. However, this concept has not caught on well in India for want of public education and awareness. This in turn is perpetuating the commercial sale of human organs due to the widening gap between the demand and supply. Thousands of lives are lost in India annually from heart and liver failure since transplantation of unpaired organs like heart, liver and pancreas is either difficult or impossible from living donors. This is only possible on a large scale if these organs are available from cadaver donors.
In the United States, in 2004, there were over 14,000 organ donors – an increase of 695 donors (7%) over 2003. During this time the number of cadaver donors grew by 11% to 7,152, the largest annual increase in deceased donors in the last 10 years. In 2005, the number of kidneys transplanted from cadavers was 9,914, while the number of patients who received transplants from living donors was 6,563.

About Organ Donation

What is organ donation?

It means that a person pledges during his lifetime that after death, organs from his/her body can be used for transplantation to help terminally ill patients and giving them a new lease of life.
There are two ways of Organ donation:
1. Living related donors: only immediate blood relations (brother, sister, parents & children) can donate as per the Transplantation of Human Organ Act 1994. Living donor can donate only few organs, one kidney (as one kidney is capable of maintaining the body functions), a portion of pancreas (as half of the pancreas is adequate for sustaining pancreatic functions) and part of the liver (as the few segments that are donated will regenerate after a period of time) can be donated.

2. Cadaver Organ donor: can donate all organs after brain death.

What organs and Tissues can be donated?

The major donor organs and tissues are heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, eyes, heart valves, skin, bones, bone marrow, connective tissues, middle ear, and blood vessels. Therefore one donor can possibly give gift of life to many terminally ill patients who would not survive otherwise.

What is brain death?

It is the irreversible and permanent cessation of all brain functions. Brain can no longer send messages to the body to perform vital functions like breathing, sensation, obeying commands etc. Such persons are kept on artificial support (ventilation) to maintain oxygenation of organs so that the organs are in healthy condition until they are removed. Most cases of brain death are the end result of head injuries, brain tumours patients from Intensive care units. Organs of such patients can be transplanted in organ failure patients to provide them a new lease of life.

How quickly should the organs be donated?

Healthy organs should be transplanted as soon as possible after brain death from the donor to the recipient.

Who can be a Donor?

Anyone, regardless of age, race or gender can become an organ and tissue donor. If he/she is under the age of 18 years, then the consent of parent or legal guardian is essential. Medical suitability for donation is determined at the time of death

Who can give consent for organ donation after brain death?

Donors who have during their lifetime consented for organ donation in writing in the presence of two witnesses (at least one of whom is a near relative)should carry their donor cards with them and also express their wishes to their near and dear ones. In case of no such consent or donor pledge form was filled before death, then the authority to give consent for organ donation lies with the person lawfully in possession of the dead body.

Which terminal diseases can be cured by transplant?

Here are some terminal diseases which can be cured by the transplantation:

Heart Heart failure
Lungs Terminal lung illnesses
Kidneys Kidney failure
Liver Liver failure
Pancreas Diabetes
Eyes Blindness
Heart valve valvular disease
Skin Severe burns

Who will receive your organ?

Your vital organs will be transplanted into those individuals who need them most urgently. Gifts of life (Organs) are matched to recipients on the basis of medical suitability, urgency of transplant, duration on the waiting list and geographical location.

Is there any charge to my family for organ donation?

No, there is no charge nor payment for organ/tissues used in transplantations. Organ donation is a true gift.

Does organ / tissue removal affect cremation / burial arrangements or disfigure the body?

No. The removal or organs or tissues will not interfere with customary funeral or burial arrangements. The appearance of the body is not altered. A highly skilled surgical transplant team removes the organs and tissues, which can be transplanted in other patients. Surgeons stitch up the body carefully, hence no disfigurement occurs. The body can be viewed as in any case of death and funeral arrangements need not be delayed.

Will the doctor ask permission of donation from my family, once the signed donor card is found?

Yes. Doctor will always ask the permission of organ donation from the family if your signed card is sighted. Therefore, it is important that you discuss your decision with family members and loved ones so that it will be easier for them to follow through with your wishes.

What is legal position on organs donations?

It is legal by law. The government of India has enacted the “transplantation of human organs act 1994″ in Feb. 1995, which has allowed organ donation and legalised brain death.

Can organs be removed after death at home?

No. It can only be removed when a person is brain dead in the hospital and is immediately put on a ventilator and other life support systems. After death at home, only eyes and tissues can be removed.


Organ Donation Process

  1. Hospital Organ Donation Registry coordinates the process of cadaver organ donation i.e. organ donation after death and transplantation.
  2. There are two ways to donate organs:
    • a. By pledging for organ donation when a person is alive
    • b. By consent of family after death.
  3. During lifetime, a person can pledge for organ donation by filling up a donor form in the presence of two witnesses, one of who shall be a near relative.
  4. Organ donor can email us at : or fill in the online form here
  5. The donor form is absolutely free of cost.
  6. As mentioned earlier, you need to fill up the donor form and get it signed by two witnesses one of whom shall be a near relative and send the same to us via email or online
  7. After receiving the filled in form, we will provide the donor with an organ donor card bearing registration number on it.
  8. It is suggested to keep the donor card in your pocket and share your decision with your near and dear ones.
  9. If a person expires without registration, the family members can donate his/her organs. For this they need to sign a consent form, which is provided at that time.
  10. Once, the relatives give a written consent, organs are harvested within a few hours.
  11. The family of the donor does not face any difficulty or extra burden upon them.
  12. The transplant coordination team carries out the entire process till the relatives receive the body of the deceased.
  13. The deceased body is given back to the family in a dignified way.
  14. There is no disfigurement. The body can be viewed as in any case of death and funeral arrangements need not be delayed.
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