There are almost 7500 people currently awaiting an organ transplant in the UK, only 3000 transplants are able to be performed each year, as a result, around 1000 people die each year while waiting for an organ.
The solution is obvious – we need more organ donors. Signing up to be an organ donor is simple and takes only two minutes. What could the reason be that many people aren’t registered?
If you’ve never considered organ donation or delayed becoming a donor because of stories you may have heard, here are five myths debunked.
I wont really be dead when my organs are removed
People who are registered as organ donors, or if their family has consented to donating their organs, are only declared dead if the brain shows no electrical activity. Brain death is a clinical, measurable condition, while machines can keep your heart beating and lungs “breathing”, there is no recovery from brain death. Only after tests, usually done by more than one doctor, that determine brain death, is organ donation even considered.
If needed you can buy an organ
The trade or purchase of organs is illegal in the UK and most other countries, Iran is the only nation that allows organs to be bought and sold legally. People on the waiting list for an organ transplant do not pay for the organ they receive. Certain factors such a patient’s medical condition, blood, tissue and size match with the donor, time on the waiting list and proximity to the donor, determine who gets allocated an organ when available.
Despite this ethical and legal restriction on purchasing organs, because there are not enough donors, a thriving illegal black market is operating and usually leads to organs being harvested from innocent or financially desperate people.
If I donate a kidney I won’t be able to live a normal life
If you decide to become a living donor, doctors will perform a number of tests to determine if your kidneys are in good shape and whether you can live a healthy life with just one kidney. Usually after donating a kidney, like any other medical procedure, there is a short recovery period where you may experience some pain and will be on medication but this is not life-long and you should be able to resume your daily activities such as exercise.
If you are a smoker, many of your organs can’t be donated.
According to research done at Harefield Hospital in Hillingdon, London, one in five lung transplant patients are given organs from 20-a-day smokers and almost a half of donated lungs come from someone who had smoked.
Using lung transplants from smokers is a way of boosting supply as there is a constant shortage of donor organs.
I am too old and none of my organs can be used for transplants
There’s no defined cutoff age for donating organs. Healthcare professional decide to use your organs and/or tissue based on strict medical criteria, not age. Organs have been successfully transplanted from people older than 80. Even if your vital organs are not usable, heart valves, skin, tendons, ligaments and cartilage could also save and improve the lives of many other people.
The fact remains, anyone, no matter age, disability, or ethnicity can register to be an organ donor. Let the doctors decide when the time comes what organs can be used to save the lives of others. There is no harm that can come from signing up.