Organ Donation and Transplant
Organ donation is a process where a person allows his/her organ to be removed with legal consent while the donor is alive or after death with the assent of the next of kin or a close relative.
In most cases, donation might be for the purpose of research or as a donation to be transplanted into another person.
The most common transplantations include pancreas, intestines, kidney, liver, bone marrow, skin, corneas and heart.
Living donors can donate kidney, part of the pancreas, lungs, intestines and liver, but most donations occur after the donor has died.
For living donors, organ donation involves extensive testing before the donation, which includes psychological evaluation to ascertain if the would-be donor understands and consents to the donation.
The first living organ donor in a successful transplant was Ronald Lee Herrick. He donated a kidney to his identical twin brother in 1954, which led to the winning of the Nobel Prize in Medicine by Joseph Murray who was the lead surgeon for the successful organ transplantation.
The laws of different countries allow potential donors to permit or refuse donation, or give this choice to relatives. The frequency of donations varies among countries.
Within the European Union, organ donation is regulated by member states.
As of 2010, 24 European countries have some form of presumed consent (opt-out) system, with the most prominent and limited opt-out systems in countries like Spain, Austria, and Belgium yielding high donor rates. Spain had the highest donor rate in the world of over 45.9 per million people in the population, in the year, 2017.
In England, organ donation is voluntary and no consent is needed.
People who wish to donate their organs after death can use the Organ Donation Register, which comes in form of a national database.
The government of Wales became the first constituent country in the UK to adopt presumed consent in July 2013. The opt-out organ donation scheme in Wales went live on December 1, 2015 and is expected to increase the amount of donors by 25% in 2016.
In 2008, the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted for an initiative to introduce an EU organ donor card in order to foster organ donation in Europe, which was adopted and currently in use.
Who can be an organ donor?
Any person, of all ages can be a potential donor. When a person dies, the Organ Procurement Agency determines medical suitability for donation, based on their medical history and age.
Can I be a donor even with a medical condition?
Having a medical condition doesn’t necessarily prevent you from becoming an organ or tissue donor.
The decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is made by a medical doctor at the time of donation, based on your medical, travel and social history.
The following are conditions where organ donation is ruled out completely.
If a person has or suspected of having; Active cancer, Ebola virus disease, HIV or Hepatitis C** and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).
Although it’s possible for people with certain types of cancers to donate after couple of years of treatment. It may also be possible to donate some organs like, eyes and some tissue in these circumstances.
The organs of donors with HIV or hepatitis C can equally be used to help others with the same conditions, but such cases rarely occur.
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