Mr. A had a condition called cardiomyopathy with poorly functioning heart muscle. He was frequently developing congestion in his lungs and could barely walk a few steps before having to stop to ‘catch his breath’. His cardiologist optimized his medical treatment but clearly mentioned at one stage that his only long term solution was a heart transplant. At a time when the science was still at its infancy in our continent, Mr. A was agreeable to this as he felt that it was his only hope to survive. And, as luck would favour his decision, the family of a patient who was declared ‘brain dead’ in the ICU wanted to ‘see him live’ by donating his organs. This brain dead patient saved not just Mr. A who received his heart, but also two others who received his kidney!
A lot has happened since then….
- Mr. A has had a successful heart transplant and is able to carry on his routine activities.
- The family of the donor was happy that they could donate his organs to help others.
- Several transplants have been done so far worldwide.
- Some of the countries have networks for organ sharing that have regularized the process of organ donation.
- Number of people expressing their willingness to donate organs through ‘Donor Cards’ has certainly increased. Countries like USA allow such expression through driving license.
Awareness on organ donation has improved in general, but still several questions, concerns, religious and ethical dilemmas remain. I will make an attempt to answer some of these.
- Anyone, any age may be a potential donor. Do not assume that you or your loved ones cannot donate organs because you have had a serious illness in the past. Express your desire to the doctors and leave the medical decisions to them.
- Ethics of transplant will prevent doctors from providing the details about the recipient of the donated organ.
- Some organs can be donated even after the heart stops (example: eye/cornea), but those like the heart can be donated only in patients who are declared ‘brain dead’ when their heart is still beating. Your doctors will advise the family appropriately.
- Not all hospitals may be equipped to deal with organ donation or transplant surgery. Please notify the doctors in time so that they can contact the appropriate facility and transfer if needed.
- Organ donation will not leave the body disfigured.
There’s more to life after life…..Spread the message about the gift of donating organs to save others’ lives