Ethics experts have been cautious in weighing in on the hype around this shift, not only because there’s little to no evidence that donations would be higher but because that wave of enthusiasm could cause a collapse in donations that could exacerbate the overall shortfall.
“We’ve seen this time and time again,” said Jennifer Hanauer, director of policy, research and government relations at Gift of Life. “You have the high-profile family members coming out and saying they want to do this, and then nothing happens. People are excited and they want to be a donor, but we never see them donate.”
Gift of Life says that many potential donors fail to follow through, either because of their own ethical concerns or because they believe their loved ones will be disappointed if they don’t.
We never know when a tragedy strikes and we knew when an illness may develop. Some people may bear with a genetic disorder or disease and may require help and that is one of the main reasons that organ donation in our current system is an integral part of human lives.
Become an organ donor:
More people can become living donors than before and thanks to these modern technologies. It is very easy to list yourself as an organ donor should something happen to you. It also allows you to save multiple lives with one final act of caring and grace.
If you are curious that becoming an organ donor is the right choice for you, then there exist some pros and cons of organ donation which you need to keep in mind.
As with any major change in one of the most central aspects of our lives, organ donation poses a number of risks. Most importantly, an organ shortage could lead to severe consequences, such as organ shortages forcing patients to survive on tissue or blood donations.
For such scenarios, a new system would need to be put in place, which involves certain checks and balances. Some doctors, however, believe this might also lead to a greater increase in some circumstances, and it would be better to minimize such issues with transplantation first-hand.
“I have to be wary of thinking that organ donation is inimical to our healthcare system. It may not be in the long term, and it may actually improve it,” said Carlos Illescas, an American transplant physician and researcher at the Mayo Clinic.
To avoid developing any risk that people in need of a transplant may never get one, however, the general idea would be to set up a system in which all organs are segregated and only organs deemed “worthy” are kept aside.
“We don’t want to create a situation where you have a medical definition of donor, such that the age, height, weight, education, the family history of the donor—these would be the determinants that have to be accepted and the organ is only available for donation when there is no longer any threat of organ rejection,” said Illescas. “People are going to be the biggest losers.”
This way, the focus is on using organs that are still functioning, while leaving the lower functioning organs unharmed, to give patients a chance at survival and recovery.
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Pros of organ donation:
The benefits that come with organ donation are numerous, but the most important ones are financial. There is no longer any need for people who want to save lives, but are not able to do so to spend huge amounts of money on the donation process.
With organ donation, all the organs, barring the kidneys, are preserved for the donation of a second life. With the advent of advanced health care options like medical tourism, anyone in the world can save the lives of people they might not even know or, in some cases, even like.
One can donate his or her organs at any time and still be able to lead a productive life. In case of recipients, the savings in time and money also translate to an increase in productivity. It’s a win-win situation, both for the donor and the beneficiary.
In the current scenario, there are more than a million people waiting for an organ transplant, and approximately 6-8 million are on the waiting list across the globe. There are also people who don’t need a transplant but can get one, through a living donor.
These waiting lists need to be reduced. A number of countries have taken steps towards reducing waiting lists through Organ Donation legislation. If laws are made stricter to regulate the process, the number of people waiting for organ donation would come down drastically.
“We are always looking for ways to do more, and organ donation is a way to do more,” said Edward Eguchi, a Japanese doctor working to popularize organ donation, according to a report in the Guardian.
While some regions have already started promoting organ donation, much needs to be done in order to shift to a society that accepts organ donation and also allows for medical tourism.
Why we should start advocating it:
Getting a donation is one thing, but the organ recipient has to recover from organ failure. The more organs a person has to reject, the more it affects their quality of life. Organ rejection also increases the risk of infection, which could lead to the patient dying of sepsis.
Organ donation also brings the donor back to life, and there are also other aspects that make the whole process worthwhile, such as being able to spend more time with the donor’s family and children, and also to live a normal life again.
Because of the risk of organ rejection, people who wish to donate their organs should do so in an early stage in their life. If you don’t want to donate your organs when you are young, you don’t have to wait till you are old and dying to make the decision.
Another important aspect of a person’s decision to donate an organ is that they should not go through a long drawn-out process to donate, they should just get it done and save people’s lives. Organ donation should be just as simple as donating blood, and medical tourism to countries where organ donation laws are more liberal should be made more acceptable, and such people can work to bring it closer to our society, and remove the negative stigma attached to it.
Let’s have a look at some pros of organ donation and these are as follows:
1) One organ donor can protect up to 8 lives:
More than 100,000 people in the United States are waiting for an organ transplant and this process includes critical organs such as the liver, heart, and kidney. It becomes possible to help save lives in ways that you may never have thought is possible by registering as an organ donor.
2) Hundreds of millions of people can benefit:
India is second only to China in the number of people in need of organ transplantation. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, India is currently in a desperate need of 7,400 donor organs.
We are in a position where, if we were to go through the process of organ donation as it is in China, we could save at least hundreds of people.
3) Relieving the suffering of loved ones who are without a loved one to lean on:
The most common reason that a loved one wants to donate an organ is that they would be able to save someone’s life. A lot of time and effort goes in the donation process, and in some cases it could take a while for the donated organ to be retrieved.
If organ donation was easier, it would save the lives of thousands of people each year. It would also let the donor’s family take back some of the pain they might be feeling from the loss of their loved one.
4) Bringing glory to the country:
If a person is a donor they can bring a lot of glory to their country, as we are already known as a compassionate nation.
The social stigma attached to organ donation has been removed in several countries, and if it can be done, it would make us stand on the podium of being among the leaders in human rights.
5) Free live donations:
If you make a live donation for someone in need and you are approved as a match then medical procedure and recovery needs you have free of charge. The costs related to you are not passed on to the organ recipient either. Many physicians will provide their services free of charge and even if there are recovery complications, your medical costs are covered.
6) Not leaving the deserving people waiting:
Many people in need of a liver transplant don’t get one because they have to wait for a waiting list. A donation of an organ can solve that issue.
As discussed in the previous point, a donation of an organ can change the life of the recipient. These people are very grateful for your donation.
People often have to choose between making the decision to become an organ donor or to let a loved one suffer needlessly. When it comes to living donation, there is no limit to the number of times a person can donate to someone. And, as mentioned before, the donor’s family won’t have to pay any charges.
While donating organs is a noble act, we have to get rid of the stigma attached to it. If it’s a matter of human life or money, let’s give the former.
7) More organ donation happening than before:
There are more than 33, 500 organ transplants that occurred in the United States in 2016, and that set a new record for complete transplants. There has been about a 20 percent increase in successful transplants from 2012-2016 and thanks to improvement in technology innovations and medical procedures. That’s a trend that looks to be continuing with more than 8000 transplants completed in the first quarter of 2017.
8) No age restrictions being an organ donor:
Anyone can be an organ donor including children and only restrictions in place are related to the age of certain organs for some individuals. Those children under the age of 18 must have the consent of a parent or guardian to provide a donation.
9) Offers people a second chance at life:
People who are waiting for transplants are often dependent on costly treatments to survive and a person waiting for a kidney transplant may need to visit a dialysis clinic multiple times a week to have their blood cleaned. It becomes possible for that individual to return to a somewhat normal lifestyle that does not have the same costly procedures that need to happen on regular basis and by being able to donate an organ.
10) Offer a sense of closure:
The process of organ donation can help families to find a sense of closure that would not happen otherwise and especially for organ donations that come out of tragedy. Knowing that the heart of a son, mother, or father continues to beat on in the chest of someone else can be a comforting experience and it would not eliminate the grief that comes from losing a loved one.
On the other hand, it does eliminate the idea that their loss is in vain, and letting someone continue with their life is a gift that does keep ongoing.
7) Potential of medical research advances:
Organ donation may not always be possible to help someone live a normal life. It does not exclude the ability to donate to help others and people make donations to benefit science and medical research. This also may include donating a specific organ such as the heart or brain and it may even include donating their entire body. For those people who have rare diseases or genetic conditions then organ donation comes with the potential of saving more lives through knowledge gained.
8) Makes it possible to help someone right now:
If someone is a perfect match for an individual on the organ transplant list then it is possible to help a person in need right now and you can donate certain organs when you are still alive.
Live donations including kidneys, some parts of the liver, a portion of the pancreas or lungs, and some intestinal tissues as well. It also comes up with idea that this type of live donation is not suitable then one must consider donating blood.
Cons of organ donation:
There are a few reasons why people may not want to donate their organs, as they can either have religious reasons or be very busy in their life and they don’t have the time to focus on a donation.
Older people don’t have to be on the list unless they need a kidney or liver transplant, and they must sign a release form to donate their organs.
Some people are very afraid that by donating their organs they could cause a family to grieve the death of a loved one by helping someone else live and donating organs has to be very closely monitored.
Major pros of organ donation is illicit organ trade , which is very difficult to control.
Also, certain types of transplants (and livers in particular) are more likely to be infected with HIV and hepatitis C.
Lets have a look on cons of organ donation in little bit more details.
1) Organ Trafficking:
Organ trafficking is a crime in the United States, and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime has reported over 1,000 cases.
Organ trafficking is also often marketed in the medical tourism industry. Organ trafficking has also been reported in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
As many as 40 percent of individuals who sell organs are organized crime networks, including criminal gangs, family members, and people with convictions.
As a result, the demand for kidneys, hearts, livers, and corneas, has fueled an underground organ trade in the U.S. and abroad.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimated that approximately 2,500 organs from illegal donors are removed from the U.S. annually. And only 2000 people are compensated for their organs per year.
While most people who sell their organs are found and prosecuted, some people have been coerced or lured into a sale by anti-transplant trafficking groups and they do not even know how much they are selling their organ for.
When discussing organ trafficking, there is frequently misunderstanding about how this crime occurs. According to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), 10% of all organ transplants, including the lungs, heart, and liver, are performed using trafficked organs. However, the most frequently traded organ is the kidney, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that 10,000 kidneys are traded illicitly annually, or more than one every hour.
2) Infection risk:
There is a risk associated with the procedure to donate organs, which includes HIV, hepatitis, hepatitis B and C, and many other diseases and infections.
Depending on which organ is being donated, there is an infection risk.
For instance, someone who is donating a kidney to a stranger will generally have the highest infection risk as they are often in a room with the person before they receive the organ.
But organ transplants can also cause severe infections and require antibiotic treatment, and often these patients are the most critically ill and on the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) list for organ transplants.
A study published in 2015 shows that the infections and hospitalizations of patients for medical procedures increased by 43 percent from 2000 to 2013.
3) Organ transplant is relatively expensive:
The cost of a liver transplant in the United States is about 71,000 dollars while an additional 25,000 dollars for every 30 days of care pre-transplant. Moreover, for lung transplants, the cost is about $130,000 and also charges an additional $56,000 for every 30 days of care pre-transplant, and for many organ procedures, it exceeds about $1 million with heart-lung transplant recipients faces a cost of $2.3 million. In some regions of the United States, the average wait time can be 3 to 5 years for some organs.
4) Organ donation leads to health issues:
Surgery or medical procedure is required to become a living donor. Any surgery might offer a certain type of risk which may include death and others health problems that can develop after a surgery that requires a lifestyle change.
People who donate bone marrow may be restricted in future activities for a lifetime and those who donate a kidney may be prohibited from drinking alcohol. Moreover, there is a 10 percent risk of diabetes development as compared with those who receive an organ.
5) Every organ donated will not be accepted:
For those who receive a transplant, organ donation is a very real possibility, and even when there is a direct match, there exists a chance that the organ will be rejected. For those who receive a transplant, there is a chance that they need to take medications for the rest of life to lessen the risk of this issue from occurring.
Though there are some patients who may need the organ, it doesn’t mean the remaining healthy organs will be equally used. This leads to a problem, which has been reported to be the greatest in the United States: for example, between 2006 and 2007 in the state of Iowa, a total of 465 people had waiting lists for transplantation while the deceased were on the waiting list for 5,792 organ donations, and the organs were rejected for 6,854 patients.
6) It’s a life-threatening surgery:
It is an operation that has multiple risks. People who are going to have a kidney transplant are often given a less-than-positive outlook.
Apart from the risks from complications of being very ill and need a blood transfusion post-surgery, people who receive a kidney transplant must endure some level of immunosuppression that will prevent transplanted organs from being infected by HIV or hepatitis C and even treat a low white blood count condition.
Additionally, transplanted organs are a possible source of infection, which is why transplanted organs are not typically used as the source of a new organ. Some of these risks are generally less if the surgery is done outside of a hospital setting. However, there are still risks.
Donors should go in for counseling to ensure that they would not reject the transplant and will make sure to follow the necessary precautions post-surgery.
7) Prolong the grieving period of the family:
It may be necessary to keep a loved one on support for an extended period and for organ donation to be successful. It helps to keep tissues that may be donated in a healthy state and organ donation does not occur until a person is declared to be brain dead. It makes a loved one like he or she is still alive. It prolongs the grieving period of the family during the process of organ donation.
These are the pros and cons of organ donation which need to be kept in mind. Organ donation is important because it helps save lives. It is also the most heartless act on the face of the earth.
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