It's divine to donate

Last Updated 22 August 2014, 13:31 IST

Death is inevitable, but you can give life, even in death. In fact, one organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and enhance the lives of fifty others! Why say no, when saving lives is free, contends Anika Parashar Puri

At some point or the other in our lives, almost all of us would have known someone who suffers organ failure. And yet, we know so little about organ
donation. We don’t understand what it means for us and what we have to do. To make matters worse, we are inundated with myths about it, which are simply a result of lack of awareness and authentic information available.

It's hard to predict our life path, especially when it comes to our health. We never know when we or our loved one might end up on the waiting list. Genetics and our environment can impact our physical body, especially our organs. If we would be grateful for the gift of life, then let’s be generous enough to gift it as well. Tissue donation can include the gift of tendons, ligaments, bones, and other soft connective tissues that give those in need the ability to walk, run, dance, and skip again. You could make another person’s heart beat again by donating your blood, restore a normal life by donating your kidneys and liver, or give a new life
altogether by donating your heart!

As a family, this cause is extremely close to our hearts, as my mother had a
transplant last year and my aunt had one 13 years ago. We are committed through our family endeavour, The Parashar Foundation, to work towards bettering the organ donation situation in India.

Under this NGO, ORGAN India (the Organ Receiving and Giving Awareness
Network) came to life last year.

The organisation has produced a film on brain death, which has been given to all the
hospitals in Delhi-NCR and is to be given to all other hospitals across the country. It intends to aid hospitals in helping families understand the process of organ donation.

In the last few months, it has also created a digital footprint as well as made
in-roads into several corporates to spread awareness. A large-scale awareness
campaign is to be launched soon, and we have already completed the country’s first comprehensive research on organ donation, in Delhi-NCR.

Organ donation is, quite literally, a life-saving gift. Death is inevitable, but you can give life, even in death. In fact, one organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and enhance the lives of fifty others! All you have to do is sign a donor card and inform your family of your intent, so that they support your wish.

It's free to register and donate your organs and tissues. Better still, there is no paperwork, it takes only a minute and costs nothing, as they are covered by the retrieval centre or recipient. Why say no when saving lives is free!

Still doubtful? Heard reasons which may deter you? Read on and dispel those myths.

What if I recover from brain death?

It is not possible to recover from brain death. A brain dead person will have passed on, beyond doubts.

How do they know I am really dead?

The medical fraternity follows very strict standards to determine if a person is brain dead or not. In India, a panel of four doctors has to declare you brain dead
before your organs can be harvested. This panel will do so only after a series of
exhaustive tests, which are repeated twice.

How could the organs of a brain dead person be used?

All cells run on electrical energy. The oxygen we breathe is carried to every cell in our body, where it helps the cells in extracting energy. So long as oxygen and glucose are available to the cells, even if the brain stops functioning, the cells
perform their function.

Is brain death the same as coma?

 Coma is a state of deep unconsciousness, where the brain continues to function and the person can breathe on his/her own, without the help of a ventilator. Brain
activities can be seen through various tests. Thus the brain still has the capacity to heal, and the person may come out of coma. Brain death results from such severe
injuries (like a road accident or a stroke) that the damage is permanent and all
functions of the brain stop completely.

(The writer is a trustee of Parashar Foundation that initiated Organ Receiving and Giving Awareness Network)

(Published 22 August 2014, 13:31 IST)

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