Busting Myths: Organ donation

17 May 2021

Curtain Hug

There are many Gokus around us. They wish to donate but are caught in a never-ending confusion between myth and reality. They hear stories from many people who are often misinformed about the organ donation process. This stops them from making an informed decision. Meanwhile, many people die because of a lack of organs for transplantation.

Organ donation after brain death has become an urgency. Annually, India carries out 12,000 kidney transplants, which are far less than the required 2,20,000. Likewise, 2000 liver transplants are carried out annually. But around 100,000 people die because of liver diseases.
We could have saved these lives.

To remove such confusion, we have addressed certain myths about organ donation:

Myth: I may recover after brain death. I shouldn’t donate my organs.
Fact: You cannot recover from brain death. It is impossible. This is not the same as a coma. A coma is a condition where the brain is still active. But, in brain death, the brain is dead. There is no activity. The Indian government has established exhaustive tests to confirm brain death. These are performed twice after every 6 hours.

Myth: I may be born in the next life without the donated organ.
Fact: The body is destroyed during cremation. The organs will also vanish. The organs do not hold any importance, even if a person believes in rebirth. All religions encourage people to help others. Donating is a humanitarian act. Hence, religious beliefs should not pose a limitation on organ donation.

Myth: Organ donation will disfigure my body for final rites.
Fact: The process of organ donation doesn’t mutilate your body. The doctors remove the organ with an incision from the top part of the chest to the navel. This process doesn’t dismember the body. There are no visible marks of organ donation. The body is treated with care and respect throughout the process.

Myth: The doctors will not try to save me if I sign up to donate my organs.
Fact: The doctor at the hospital will focus on saving your life. It is their responsibility to provide you with proper care. They will offer the option for organ donation only in case you have been declared brain dead.

Myth: The hospital will ask for money from my family for organ donation.
Fact: No, the hospital will not charge you or your family for donating organs. The charges will be borne by the recipient of the organ transplant.

Myth: I am too old or too young to donate.
Fact: Organ donation doesn’t have an age limit. For older people, the condition of your organs matters the most. The viability of your organs will be checked by healthcare professionals before donation. People under 18 can also register for organ donation. But they need the consent of their legal guardian.

Myth: Someone may steal and sell my organs. I won't donate them.
Fact: It is a punishable offense to steal and sell organs. The transplantation of Human Organ Act (THO) passed in 1994 prohibits the sale of organs. It declared it a punishable offense.

Myth: My organs will only go to the rich and famous. Poor people won’t be able to get them.
Fact: Financial and celebrity status are not used to determine the allocation of organs. There are numerous factors involved in transplantation. Such as the waiting time, blood type, the severity of the patient, location, and other medical information.

Organ donation is a noble act as it can help to save many lives. Many myths and stigmas surround the organ donation process. Thus, we must practice caution while hearing various “stories” about it. Otherwise, we will also become like Goku.