India has a wide gap between individuals who need an organ for transplant and the organs available. Approximately 500,000 people die each year while waiting for a human organ for transplant in India.
In addition, as stated by the World Health Organization (WHO), only about 0.01 per cent of Indians donate their organs after their death. Many believe that the reasons behind this are either lack of awareness, religious beliefs or superstitions. However, misconception or myth regarding organ and tissue donation and transplantation is a major cause of discouraging individuals who want to become organ donors. Today, instead of believing in false myths, we have dispelled them for you. Without further ado, here are eight facts and myths about organ donation and transplantation you should be aware of that may leave you surprised.
The donation of organs and tissues will disfigure or mutilate the donor’s body. Fact: The first myth on this list is a very common one. Many have this fear that if they become an organ donor after death, it will lead to disfigurement or mutilation of the donor’s body.
The truth is that the procedure of organ transplantation happens surgically and is similar to removing the gallbladder or appendix. There would be no visible signs of organ or tissue donation because the donor is clothed for burial or cremation and is handled with care and respect.
The hospital staff will not work as hard to save my life if I agree to donate my organs. Fact: The second surprising myth that many assume is that the hospital staff or medical team does not put their best efforts to save a donor. If an individual registered to become an organ donor is either sick, injured or has had an accident, the hospital staff would work hard and try all life-saving efforts possible.
This myth is especially false as the medical team that treats a patient is different from the transplant organization or team. The transplant organization or team does not get informed until all efforts to save the patient have failed and death has been declared. Also, the transplant team is not notified unless the donor’s family gives their consent.
I am very young to decide to donate as I am under 18. Fact: Our next myth may be true in a legal sense but not impossible. If a person who is under the age of 18 wishes to donate their organs or tissue, then such cases require consent and authorization from their parents.
There are many newborns and children who are in need of an organ for transplant, which is why there is no specific age to become an organ donor. Newborns, as well as donors in their 70s, can donate a human organ for transplant.
Organ donation is not an option for me as an older adult. Fact: The next myth on our list is quite similar to what we just discussed. Advanced age or a history of serious illness such as hypertension, cancer, or diabetes does not mean that an individual cannot become organ donors.
Many individuals prematurely disqualify themselves thinking that their donation is of no use. The medical professionals and tests determine if an individual is suitable for donating an organ for transplant. While a certain human organ for transplant may not be suitable for transplantation, others may help save the life of someone in need.
Anyone can be eligible to be an organ donor.
Fact: On the topic of medical criteria and tests determining whether a donor is suitable for organ and tissue donation or not. While it is true that a person should not prematurely disqualify themselves from organ donation, some strict medical criteria decide if an individual is eligible.
If an individual has active cancer, active infection, or active HIV, they could be ruled out from organ donation and transplantation. However, more information at the time of death would be required if someone has a history of hepatitis. With that being said, people with Hepatitis C could still donate an organ for transplant.
The wealthy and famous are given preferential treatment when it comes to receiving a donation/ transplant. Fact: This myth has to be on this list for being a commonly held belief. A lot of people suspect that wealthy and famous people get preferential treatment regarding organ donation and transplantation. However, this is not the case as the organ allocation system is based on certain factors such as the following:
- Severity of illness
- Medical urgency
- Donor’s blood type
- Donor’s body size
- Time spent waiting
- Tissue type
Factors such as social status, income, race, gender, ethnicity are never considered, whether it is of the donor or the recipient. Many often believe this myth to be true as celebrities receive great public notice or media attention when they receive an organ transplant organization in India
The donor’s family members are financially charged for costs associated with the donation.
Fact: Any costs or expenses associated with the recovery or process of the organ donation is never charged to the family members of the donor. Subsequently, any costs that do not involve organ donation would mean that the family members would be financially charged. Other costs like funeral expenses are still the responsibility of the family members. These expenses are often misunderstood as being related to organ donation. However, if a family thinks they were billed incorrectly, they need to contact, address, and rectify this issue immediately.
The heart, liver, and kidneys are the only organs that can be donated.
Fact: The final myth on our list might be surprising for many as people believe that only vital organs such as the heart, liver and kidney can be donated.
Other vital organs like the pancreas, intestines, and lungs can be donated and transplanted. One can also donate healthy tissues of eyes, bones, skin, tendons and heart tissue.
Altogether, organ donation should be more encouraged in society as it helps save numerous lives. People often get misguided or receive false information regarding organ donation and transplantation, which is why they hesitate to become an organ donor. With sufficient awareness programs and efforts, organ donation can accelerate in India.
Seemin is a writing intern at The Content Planet with a keen interest in International Affairs and economics. He has been involved in several projects related to different articles and blogs.