World Organ Donation Day

Last Updated: Nov 27, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

New Delhi: There is a huge shortage of organs in India, and patients die while on waiting list as they do not get an organ on time, said a health expert, adding that a brain-dead person`s organs can give a new lease of life to at least nine people.

Organ donation is the process of removing tissues or organs from a live, or recently dead, person to be used in another. The former is the donor and the latter is the recipient.

People of all ages can become donors, and some very high-profile people have done so: according to media reports, Aishwariya Rai is donating her corneas, while actor Madhavan has pledged his organs along with yoga guru Baba Ramdev and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar. The late Jyoti Basu, former chief minister of West Bengal, donated his whole body.

According to the Mohan Foundation of Hyderabad which supports organ donation, there are two types of organ donation systems involved: Opt In, where the donor gives consent, and Opt Out, where anyone who has not specifically refused is considered as a donor. India uses the Opt In system, while many Western countries practice the Opt Out system.

Lalitha Raghuram, director of the Mohan Foundation, explained in an email interview that there is no problem using organs from a recently deceased person. She said that a brain-dead person`s organs can give a new lease of life to at least nine people. The two eyes, two kidneys, one liver, one heart, two heart valves, one pancreas, and two lungs can be donated, she said. There is a huge shortage of organs in India, she said.

Raghuram says transplantation is a successful medical procedure practiced in the US and Britain for more than four decades, and organ recipients can lead absolutely normal lives.

Raghuram said organs are not harvested until a donor has been declared brain dead. All these activities are guided by the Transplantation of Human Organs Act of 1994, which specifies that organs cannot be bought or sold.

It is important that blood groups be matched for a successful donation. Raghuram says the public knows so little about organ donation that it is important to take the message of the positive effects of organ donation to the masses, schools, colleges, large organizations, and civic organizations can help.

Raghuram says those interested in donating their organs after they die must fill out donor cards, which can get downloaded from the Mohan Foundation`s website, www.mohanfoundation.org. Or they can also send an SMS to 93924 56355 with their name and postal address, and the foundation will mail them the brochure on organ donation and a donor card.

The foundation is working to publicise the issue. "We organised a `rally for life` where six youngsters went on a motor bike for nine days across Tamil Nadu spreading the message of organ donation. This year we have organised a short film competition," she said.

The government is sponsoring a seminar on organ donation on Sunday at Vigyan Bhawan. A.S. Soin, chairman of the Medanta Institute of Liver Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine - The Medicity Gurgaon, will attend the seminar and lead a discussion on "Why Do We Need a Cadaveric Program" of organ donation. In a telephone interview, Soin said most donors aged between 18 and 55 can donate any organs.

Donors as young as 2 or as old as 70, may be able to donate livers and kidneys. He said elderly people or those suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer or severe infections cannot donate.

The average success rate of the liver transplant is 70-80 percent and there are rare chances of failure in liver transplantation, said Soin. However, he pointed out the archetype of blood groups affect donations.

People with the AB blood group can receive organs from any group, Group `O` can donate to any of the blood groups, group `A` to only group `A` and group `B` to only `B`.

Amita Aggarwal, 35, a dentist from New Delhi, donated half of her liver to her father-in-law two years ago. "The doctor suggested that I take three to four months of rest, after my transplantation and to have a healthy normal diet." Now, she says, "I am living a normal healthy life, after transplantation."

Another liver donor, Anita Bahri, 42, from New Delhi, donated about two-thirds of her liver to her husband two years ago. She says that she has been lucky that "god selected her" to donate a part of her liver to her husband. "When I see my husband living a normal and healthy life today, every day I thank god for his kindness."

IANS