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Organ transplantation has long been a controversial topic due to various ethical, religious, legal and social factors. Regardless, the fact remains that the procedure, when done correctly, can help save lives. According to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, if one donor pledges to donate his or her heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, intestine and pancreas, he or she could save up to eight lives.
Let’s turn the hypothetical table for a minute. Imagine one your organs has stopped functioning due to some diseases, injuries or bacterial infections, and the only option for you to continue living is by surgically removing the affected organ and have it replaced with a new transplant. Does that not sound like a good news?
For instance, in Cambodia, one of the main health problems here involve kidney failures. A World Health Organisation (WHO) report in 2017 said there were nearly 2,500 deaths attributed to kidney disease. While having a problematic kidney does not immediately signify a need for a transplant, the Kingdom is facing a limited number of kidney specialists and necessary equipment.
Therefore, if one person donates a pair of kidneys, it could actually save two kidney patients from going through a lifetime of dialysis – a process that mimics the kidneys’ functions of filtering the blood of impurities.
How organ donation works
There are two types of donation: living and deceased. While most donations take place after a donor has died, some organs such as the kidneys can still be donated while the donor is alive. This is because the human body can still perform its functions with only one kidney.
There are two kinds of living donation: directed and non-directed donation. Directed donation happens when the living donor selects the specific recipient. This typically occurs in a situation where family members or friends are involved. Meanwhile, non-directed donation does not name a specific recipient, as long as the organ is a match.
This happens after the death of someone who had made the pledge when he or she was alive. A special team will decide which of the deceased’s organs that are healthy at the time of death, before deciding the recipient that the organs are likely to benefit.
Finding an organ match
Although you have pledged to donate your organs after you died, the donation will not necessarily take place because there are various factors to take into consideration such as:
Severity of patient’s medical condition
Distance between the donor’s hospital and the patient’s hospital
The patient’s waiting time
Types of organ
Myths about organ donation
1. You cannot donate if you were diagnosed with any medical conditions
This is not entirely true. You can still pledge to donate an organ after your death and the compatibility or condition of said organ will be decided by a professional medical team thereafter. However, it is not possible to be a donor if you passed away due to HIV infection, an active cancer or a systemic infection.
2. Your body will be severely mutilated during the process
Wrong. It is important to note that organ removals and transplants are a medical procedure that requires high level of expertise, and with such level of expertise, professional medical etiquette follows. The organs will be removed surgically, in a routine operation akin to appendix removal.
3. Doctors will purposely not save your life after an accident or injuries
You should trust that doctors will try their utmost best to save any lives, as they have vowed upon assuming the profession. Even if a deceased donor had pledged to donate his or her organ, doctors will only initiate the process after all efforts to resuscitate the donor have been exhausted and death has been legally declared.
4. You are too old to pledge
There is no such thing as an age limit when it comes to pledges. It was reported that the oldest person to have pledged to donate her organ was a 107-year-old woman in Scotland, who donated her corneas after her death. The condition and suitability of a transplant will first and foremost be determined by a special team after the donor is legally declared dead.
How you can be an organ donor
Visit a major healthcare provider to inquire further and undergo a routine check-up to stay at the top of your health game. Conduct a lot of research prior to making your pledge to ensure this is a well-informed decision. Consult your family members first to ensure they will not have any reservations on letting your organs be donated after your passing. Meanwhile, try to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and eat a balanced diet.
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