Expert GD Moderators Group Discussion

Should Organ Donation Be made compulsory?

 

“Organ Donation is the serious practice of dharma and the greatest service to mankind”

-Dalai Lama

Organ donation is basically one giving his/her whole body to keep a single part of someone alive. Since ancient times, organ donation has been a part of many cultures around the world. To quote a few, we can see in the case of the Hindu God, Lord Ganesha. When Lord Shiva decapitated his son’s head in anger, he had to transplant it with an elephant’s head. When he did the same with king Daksha, the father of Sati, he replaced his head with a goat’s head after the request of his followers. In Islam, the act of organ donation is given a high honor and it’s been said that:

“Whosoever saves the life of one person would be considered as if he saved the life of all mankind.”  

In Hinduism, it is believed that life is the continuous cycle of rebirth in which the body is not crucial as the soul is eternal. In the holy book, Bhagwat Geeta, through Chapter 2:25 it is stated that:

“The soul is spoken of as imperceptible, inconceivable, and unchangeable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.”

 In Buddhism, it is said that an organ donation is an act of giving selflessly with a pure intention to serve others.

So, these are some examples from different religious backgrounds which support organ donation. But at the same time, there are exact opposite viewpoints that say that the body is the gift from Heaven, and thus it should be returned as a whole. Some say that if the body is returned without an organ, the organ will be missing in the next life after rebirth. But one cannot just term them myths rather they are the beliefs and everyone is free to have their own independent beliefs.

According to the Organ Retrieval Organisation of AIIMS, over 22500 people have registered since 2010 to donate organs after death. The organs that can be donated are- kidneys, heart, lungs liver, small bowel, and pancreas. The eyes, heart, valves, bone, skin, veins, and tendons are the organs that can be donated. In case of brain death, the heart, liver, kidneys, intestine, lungs, and pancreas can be donated. One donor can save 75 lives.

In India, around 5 lakh people die due to the unavailability of organs for transplantation. Roughly, 2 lakh people die in the need of liver transplants; 50,000 for hearts, 1 lakh for corneas. Out of 1.2 billion population, only 0.08% of people agree to organ donation. By looking at the figures, we can clearly say that the people are in need of organ replacements.

Now, when we know that society is in need of organ donation, then why people don’t want to donate?

Although it is a good chance to give back to society through organ donation, the people failing to do so can be because of many reasons from their religious beliefs to the lack of knowledge, fears, and myths around it. Some of them are listed below:

  • If I agree to donate my organs, the hospital staff won't work as hard to save my life.
  • Maybe I won't really be dead when they sign my death certificate.
  • Organ donation is against my religion.
  • I'm under age 18. I'm too young to make this decision.
  • An open-casket funeral isn't an option for people who have donated organs or tissues.
  •  I'm too old to donate. Nobody would want my organs.
  • I'm not in the best of health. Nobody would want my organs or tissues.

Though there are the associated risks of rejection of the new organ by the body of the receiver and the side effects of preventing rejection, constant researches have been conducted to come up with the drugs that make it easier for the body to accept the new organ. With the help of Cyclosporine, Xenotransplantation, and other similar ways, medical science has evolved for successful organ transplantations.

Indian Government has made some efforts to encourage organ donation like the Transplantation of Human Organ Act (1994). The act is amended again in 2011 and the ‘Donation and Transplantation of Human Organ Bill, 2020' is likely to be introduced by Varun Gandhi in the upcoming monsoon session of parliament. It proposes to make every individual a donor by default unless he or she opts out which will save the efforts to register individually and will faster the process of inquiry.

One is free to register themselves for organ anytime. If they decide to become living donors, they will be questioned extensively to ensure that they are aware of the risks and the decision is not for financial gain. Also, the testing will be done to determine that the person can live healthy with a single kidney.

In case of the willingness to donate after death, one has to do the following:

  • Register with your state's donor registry. Most states have registries. Check the list at organdonor.gov.
  • Designate your choice on your driver's license. Do this when you obtain or renew your license.
  • Tell your family. Make sure your family knows your wishes regarding donation.

The registry helps the planers, doctors, and transplant coordinators to work faster to ensure that the donation does not go in vain. This will also help in maintaining the infrastructure to store the donated organs. With the advancement in technology, communication has become faster and people are being educated widely through various media platforms. According to 2018 data, India was the second-largest transplanting country in the world in terms of the absolute number of transplants.

So, I feel the question of organ donation to be made compulsory should not be raised and it must be left on the individual. Also, the individual’s choice should be respected by everyone. As people blindly follow the religion, the religious leaders can be roped to encourage their followers for organ donation.

Author: Deeksha Verma (linkedin.com/in/deeksha-verma-93ab51219)

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