Organ Donation to Save Lives

Iris C F Gomes

A brain dead person is someone with absolutely no brain activity. These are normally head injury or stroke victims. Brain death has to be ascertained by two or three doctors. The rest of the brain dead person’s organs continue to function as he or she is connected to a ventilator. If the person is a registered organ donor, the next step is to approach the relatives for permission to harvest the organs. A grief counsellor should be on hand to speak with the bereaved.

All religions uphold organ donation as an honourable gesture. Islam has two views on it: one supports the act (based on the principle of necessities overruling prohibition) and the other does not. This would then be a matter of conscience or seeking the advice of an imam or scholar.

The body is not disfigured in any way through the procedure and no expense is to be borne by the deceased’s loved ones. The age of the donor is not an obstacle to donation as it is the age and condition of the organs that is vital and this is assessed by the doctors involved.

It is easy enough to get yourself registered as an organ donor. What is essential is speaking to your near and dear ones and keeping them mentally prepared for the occasion, should it arise. If there were more organ donors, it would aid in the progress related to making arrangements for the reception and utilisation of cadaver organs.

The Head of the Department of Urology at GMC, Dr Madhumohan Prabhudesai, is involved in spearheading the movement for creating awareness among doctors as well as the public at large about organ donation. He talks of the situation in Goa, ‘Even if a person has expressed the wish to donate organs in the event of brain death, consent has to be obtained from relatives. Specially trained grief counsellors need to be appointed to deal with relatives. There needs to be the facility for the harvesting of organs and a cadaveric laboratory to preserve organs has to be set up. A list of patients has to be compiled and we also need a special laboratory for tissue typing. Also there is the need to coordinate the transport of the other organs that will not be used at GMC to other hospitals.’ 

After live related transplants the next move will be to launch a cadaveric renal transplant programme. The process is in motion, but all the specialised personnel need to be in place, for example, a special team to declare a person brain dead needs to be appointed and all the facilities should be available. However, awareness is of primary importance to dispel myths connected with organ donation, so that people will be prepared to donate their organs and the relatives will concede to the wishes of the individual concerned.

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