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Organ Donation Day: Raising awareness about organ donation is crucial to saving lives

One organ donor has the potential to save more than 8 lives in his lifetime by donating his organs that are functioning properly.
    
Organ Donation Day, which is celebrated every year on 13th August, emphasizes the importance of the voluntary act of organ donation and how it can save millions of lives across the globe. 
    
Organ donation can happen either from a living donor or a donor who has had brain death. Brain death is caused by catastrophic, irreversible, permanent damage to the brain either due to a road accident with head injury or a major bleed into the brain from a burst blood vessel. As we all know, the brain works as the control center for the whole body, so obviously, the whole body will eventually shut down if the brain is not properly functional. 
    
Through some medical tests, brain death can be diagnosed and there should be a legal declaration that the brain of the patient is already dead and then the process of transplantation needs to get started immediately. 
    
Living donors can donate some of their organs and tissues such as a kidney or part of the liver, part of the pancreas, part of the lungs, or part of the intestines, but most donations occur after the death of the donor. Usually, organs that can be transplanted are – kidneys, heart, liver, pancreas, intestines, lungs, bones, bone marrow, skin, and corneas. It is estimated that almost around 5 lakh people lose their lives awaiting organ transplants due to the unavailability of organs. It is unfortunate that even today, people are hesitant about donating their organs and therefore a huge gap exists between the number of transplants awaited and the organs available. Though the entire process depends on the certain medical status of the donor, as per statistics, one organ donor has the potential to save more than 8 lives in his lifetime by donating his organs that are functioning properly.
    
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted organ donation and transplantation in all countries. UK, France and US reported a greater than 50 per cent reduction in transplant activity. The reasons mainly have been logistical barriers of transportation of organs, medical teams and patients, the conversion of transplant facilities to COVID hospitals became a concern among both the doctors and the patients. The fear of acquiring COVID-19 infection immediately post-transplant with every hospital having plenty of COVID-19 cases discouraged patients from getting transplantations done.
    
Awareness about the safety of transplant procedures during the COVID-19 era should be created among patients by displaying transplant data during the COVID-19 pandemic in hospitals at strategic areas such as dialysis units, ICU, CCU. Print and electronic media can also be of great help to spread positive information among the public for the same.
    
Things you know before you opt to donate your organ
    
• The living donor must be in good physical and mental health while taking the transplantation process ahead.
    
• The donor must be at least 18 years old and should have his/her parents’/guardian’s consent.
    
• The donor should be willing to donate and should not feel it as a compulsion as it is a voluntary act.
    
• The donor needs to be well informed about the risks, benefits, potential outcomes both positive and negative for both the donor and the recipient.
    
• Have a good support system.

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