This article serves as a quick guide to some basic and important facts about organ donation and a few more info on the statistics of the same.
Medical science has advanced greatly in the recent years. It is now possible to successfully transplant organs from one person to another. Many times, a living person can donate one of his/her kidneys to a person suffering from kidney failure. The donor and recipient, both, can live a healthy life after the donation. However, people are still hesitant to share their organs with the needy ones. Thus, the list of organ donors is shorter than those who are in need of an organ.
Organs that Can be Donated
The following organs can be donated depending on the age, medical condition and conditions at the time of death.
• Small Intestine
Organ Donation Statistics
➚ During the year 2010, there were 14,510 organ donors in the United States.
➚ There were about 112,178 patients waiting for an organ donation.
➚ About 28,665 organ transplants were performed in the year 2010. Of these there were about 1,746 pediatric patients.
➚ The eye banks in U.S. made 42,000 grafts available for transplantation.
➚ The minority donation percentage also increased in 2006. African-Americans were 15.5% and Hispanics were 13.7% of the total deceased donors. According to the organs, the total donations could be split into:
• 7180 kidney donations
• 7017 liver donations
• 2275 heart donations
• 2026 pancreas donations
• 325 lung donations
• 184 intestine donations
➚ According to the race/ethnicity, the total donations could be split into:
• 5427 white donations
• 1243 black donations
• 1097 Hispanic donations
• 174 Asian donations
• 42 multiracial donations
• 22 AM Indian/Alaska donations
• 19 Pacific Islander donations
A few other statistics and facts include:
• There are more than 110,000 people who require an organ transplant. The waiting list is never-ending, as every 14 minutes a new patient is added to the list of hopefuls for an organ donation.
• There were around 28,664 organ transplants performed in 2010.
• There are about 18 people dying everyday as they did not receive an organ.
• Every 48 hours a person dies, waiting for an organ donation.
• Not just adults, but even children can donate organs with parental consent.
• Living people can donate organs too. They can donate a part of their liver, kidney, skin and bone marrow to people who are in dire need of a healthy organ.
• One person donating his/her organs can save up to 50 lives. As it is not just the organs, but tissues, bones and skin too can be donated.
Organ Donation Facts
➚ It has been found there are 80% Americans, who support this. However, only 30% of these Americans actually know how to become a donor. The facts are discussed in the following paragraph.
➚ All people are potential organ donors irrespective of their age. Only they must let their family know that they wish to become a donor and sign an organ donor card as well as register with their states, regions or countries ‘Organ and Tissue Donor Registry’. After death, every patient and every organ are assessed individually. If it is found that the organ is healthy and functioning normally, then donation is certainly possible. The Donor Network has obtained organs from young donors as well as from adults in their 90s. Thus, the patient’s medical history is more significant than the age. If active cancer, active HIV or active infection is present, then donation is canceled. In case of Hepatitis, some detailed data is essential at the time of death. Those having Hepatitis B or C may donate organs to patients afflicted with the same.
➚ Organs have to be removed as quickly as possible after brain death is confirmed in an operating room under sterile conditions, while circulation is being maintained artificially. All the expenditure regarding donation is bore by the Organ Procurement Organization and none by the donor’s family. Such a donation does not mar the body or cause any postponement of funeral procedures. The identity of the donor or the donor’s family is not disclosed to anyone.
➚ There exists a standing ethics committee in the Organ procurement organizations. Additionally, every region and hospital has an ethics committee that discusses every case. The United Network for Organ Sharing too has an active ethics committee.
➚ It is quite practical for an alive person to donate a kidney or a part of the liver, lung or pancreas. Such living donations are managed by individual transplant centers where the recipient is present. The New York Organ Donor Network started the Living Donor Kidney Exchange Program on August 17, 2005 with an aim of increasing kidney donation. Following factors decide the possibility of living donation:
• Interest of the donor
• Need of the intended recipient
• Need of the society
• Interest of the close relative of the donor and recipient
• Interest of the transplant center taking care of the recipient
The entire body can be donated for medical education and research. The New York Organ Donor Network makes such a donation possible after the organ could not be accepted for potential donation. At times, it happens that some institutes request for some specific organs for research. Then, the Donor Network furthers this request of a particular organ to the donors’ families.
Process of Organ Donation
The process involves the following steps:
Donor referral: When a patient is about to die, the hospital’s representative requests confidential information from the New York Organ Donor Network to find out if the patient is a potential donor.
Medical evaluation: A transplant coordinator analyzes the medical suitability of the organ of the potential donor, interviews the next of kin and completes a medical and social questionnaire about the potential donor.
Declaration of death by the doctor.
Consent: A transplant coordinator furnishes detailed information to the next of kin and asks the kin to sign a consent form regarding the organs to be donated.
Medical Examiner/Coroner: A transplant coordinator must confirm from the Medical Examiner/Coroner whether the death is under jurisdiction.
Organ Allocation and Recipient Identification: The available organ is allocated as per the degree of match, medical urgency and time waiting. The transplant surgeon finalizes whether the recipient is a proper match.
Organ recovery: The transplant coordinator oversees the work of the surgical recovery team consisting of surgeons, nurses, the transplant coordinator and an organ preservation technician.
Organ preservation: Hearts and lungs can be preserved for 4 hours after removal. Similarly, pancreas for 8 to 12 hours, liver for 12 to 18 hours, intestines for 8 hours and kidneys for 24 to 48 hours.
Donor family follow-up: Letters are sent to the donor’s family, relevant doctors and nurses regarding the outcome of the donation.
Costs: All the expenses are billed to the New York Organ Donor Network which is reimbursed by the recipient’s transplant hospital which is further reimbursed by the recipient’s insurance company or Medicare.
There are many lives that could be changed by your decision to donate organs. Help someone live, think about organ donation.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.