Living Organ Donation Can Save Lives – It’s Time to Step Up

Living Organ Donation Can Save Lives – It’s Time to Step Up

Health News

(Organ Donation Day is celebrated on August 13 in India to raise awareness about the cause and help people pledge their organs for donation.)

Over 100,000 people in India are waiting for a liver transplant, while less than 1500 transplants took place last year.

Over 200,000 patients are waiting for a kidney transplant, but less than 10,000 transplants could be performed last year.

These are the stark facts related to organ donation in India, where less than 0.08 per million population are organ donors, an incredibly small and insignificant number compared to the rest of the world.

Awareness about living organ donation is low, and most people walk away despite having pledged to be organ donors.

No surprise that it made headlines when a young man in his 30s, a dog trainer from Chennai, decided to donate his liver to a friend in Delhi.

A Story of Friendship and Care

Prasanna, Nirmiti and Anurag met during college in Wales. Anurag’s wife Puja and his daughter Sona joined them there, and all friends lived like a family for two years.

After graduation, Prasanna and Nirmiti got married and started a dog training and grooming centre in Chennai. While Puja and Anurag lived their corporate dream after moving to Dubai.

The friends barely met, but kept in touch through social media and over an occasional phone call on birthdays. 10 years went by.

Over time Puja’s health deteriorated due to a chronic liver disease. Her reports were not good and the doctors said she needed a liver transplant.

 Puja along with Prasanna, Anurag and Nirmiti.
Puja along with Prasanna, Anurag and Nirmiti.
(Photo Courtesy: Anurag Bhatnagar)

Once family members were tested and rejected, Anurag sent out a plea for a donor on social media.

Out in the field in Chennai, Nirmiti read the message on her phone and hit a reply. In his office, Prasanna did the same. Both were tested and Prasanna turned out to be match.

A month later, the friends met for the first time in a decade at Max Hospital in Delhi. After a 13-hour-surgery, both Prasanna and Puja are doing well.

When we met them, Prasanna was dying to go back to his dogs, and Puja, in her hospital bed, was tired but overjoyed.

While a brain-dead person can donate up to eight organs including heart, liver, 2 kidneys, 2 lungs, pancreas and intestines, but you can also save lives while you are living.

What All Can You Donate?

  • One of two kidneys A kidney is the most frequently donated organ from a living donor. Your remaining kidney provides the necessary function needed to remove waste from the body.
  • One of two lobes of the liver. Cells in the remaining lobe of the liver grow or regenerate until the liver is almost its original size.
  • A lung or part of a lung, part of the pancreas, or part of the intestines. Although these organs do not regenerate, they remain fully functional.

Who Can Donate?

Everyone can donate so long as they do so willingly. And the Organ Transplant Act lays out some clear rules to protect those who do decide to donate. Most living donors are family members, but your loved ones, people who you have an emotional connect with can also donate.

The transplant law in India allows donation for emotional reasons, but an ethics board will interview the donor and his spouse or immediate family. Only if the family also gives consent will the board allow for such donation to take place.  
Dr Subhash Gupta, Chief Transplant Surgeon, Max Healthcare

Generally, living donors should be physically fit, in good health, between the ages of 18 and 60, and should not be suffering from chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or heart disease.

What are the Risk Factors?

Living donation surgeries do involve the same level of risk for the donor as any major surgery. While a lot of complications are not severe, you may have to spend a considerable time in the hospital. Post surgery care is important and the donor will have to take precautions for a minimum of six months.

It’s important that the risks associated with surgery and donation are thoroughly discussed with your transplant team and you are psychologically, financially and emotionally ready before taking the decision to give someone a chance for a second life.

Camera: Shiv Kumar

Editor: Prashant Chauhan

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