Who can donate?

Anyone can donate. Which organs can be donated depends on the medical condition of the patient.

Is there disfigurement during organ donation?

The donor's body is not disfigured. Only a small-cut is made like during a surgery.

How can I donate organs?

You can pledge to donate your organs in your lifetime and also inform your family members about the decision of organ donation. You can also, in writing state your wish to donate your organs.

Who is a brain-dead patient?

A brain-dead person is a person whose brain-stem is no longer functioning and where there is no scope for recovery. Brain-dead patients are kept on the support of a ventilator.

Brain stem is an important part of the brain that sustains life. A brain stem dead person is an unconscious, dependent patient, who cannot breathe on his own and is breathing through a ventilator, even though one can feel his pulse, blood pressure and other sign of life. The lack of functioning of the brain stem is a sign of death and the rest of the body will eventually stop functioning even if the ventilator is continued.

It is different between coma patients and brain dead individual. The coma patient is not dead whereas brain stem death is the irreversible stage beyond coma, as the person can either regain consciousness nor breathing capability. The heart can continue to function due to a ventilator for a few hours to few days & it is during this period that the organs can be retrieved after obtaining consent from the close relatives. Organs are never taken at the cost of donor's life.

What is the law that governs organ donation?

The Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 and it's future amendments - with last being in 2011 along with The Transplantation of Human Organs Rules, 1995 and it's future amendments, govern the organ transplantations that happen in India.

Do I have to pay to get an organ transplanted?

There are no fees for organ transplantation.

What is the central authority for organ donation in India?

NOTTO (National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation) is the central authority for organ donation in India.

Are organs sold?

Selling and buying of organs in strictly prohibited in India. It is a punishable offence for which one can be sent to up to 10 years imprisonment and be asked to pay a fine of up to ₹20lakhs (was 5 years and ₹10,000 when the Act commenced). Also, under Section 370 of The Indian Penal Code, a person who does force removal or organs (without consent) is liable to be sentenced to jail for 7-10 years and a fine.

What organs can be donated?

Life-saving organs such as a heart, kidney, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines can be donated. Tissues, such as bones, ligaments and tendons, are often needed, so they can also be donated. Corneas, heart valves and skin may also be donated. For tissues, a bank can be created.

How are organs stored?

Each organ is flushed free of blood after removal from the patient's body with a specially prepared ice-cold preservation solution that contains electrolytes and nutrients. The organs are then placed in sterile containers, packaged in wet ice, and transported to the recipient's transplant centre.

Is donating organs prohibited by any religion?

All religions support organ donations as it a kind of help that we extend to our fellow humans. Charity is not prohibited by any religion.

Is it true that organ donors do not get the same medical care as others?

No, this is a myth. All patients are given the same level of medical treatment, organ donor or not.

How long after death can organs be donated?

These are the times for which different organs can stay out of the human body:

  • Lung - 4 to 6 hours
  • Heart - 4 to 6 hours
  • Liver - 24 hours
  • Pancreas - 24 hours
  • Kidney - 72 hours
  • Cornea - 14days
  • Bones - 5 years
  • Skin - 5 years
  • Heart Valves - 10 years

Whose consent is taken after my death to get my organs donated?

Your next of kin or family is asked to give consent to donate your organs. This is a norm in India.

Who will receive the donated organs?

There are a few steps for the receiving of organs that are as below:

Name of the recipient has to be registered as a cadaver organ receiver in organ transplant institute.

There is a committee formed who takes appropriate decision in the selection of the recipient based on a few criteria such as age, employed or unemployed, time since dialysis commenced, family donor, any previous transplants etc.

The organs will be transplanted into those patients who need them most urgently. Recipient selection is based on medical criteria like blood group, the result of cross-matching and body size. Social and financial status is never a criterion in selecting recipients.

Can someone jump the waiting list if they are influential?

No, this is strictly prohibited in India. The criteria are pre-defined and it depends upon the date of registration and medical condition.

What is directed donation?

Directed donation is when the family members of a cadaver donor request that the organs are donated to a specific person in the family. However the decision to do that or not lies with the Authorisation Committee set up under the THOA, 1994.

Are all hospitals equipped to carry out organ transplantation?

No, only those hospitals that have registered as per the law laid down by the THOA can carry out the procedure of organ transplantation. Removal of organs without authority attracts a penalty that may lead to permanent de-registration of the hospital.

Who certifies a person as brain-dead?

As per the THOA, the following can declare a person as brain-dead:

(i) the registered medical practitioner in charge of the hospital in which brain-stem death has occurred;

(ii) an independent registered medical practitioner, being a specialist, to be nominated by the registered medical practitioner specified in clause.

(i) from the panel of names approved by the Appropriate authority;

(iii) a neurologist or a neurosurgeon to be nominated by the registered medical practitioner specified in clause.

(i) from the panel of names approved by the Appropriate Authority; and

(iv) the registered medical practitioner treating the person whose brain-stem death has occurred.

Is there an age limit for donating your organs?

No, there is no age limit. The organs, at the time of retrieval are tested their for health. However, those who are under 18 years of age, would need the consent of their parent or guardian to donate their organs.

Can a person of unsound mind donate organs?

Yes. But in this case as well, the consent of the person's parents or guardians would be required.

Can I be a donor if I have been rejected to donate blood?

Yes. There may be specific reasons why it has not been possible to donate blood, such as having anaemia or had a blood transfusion or temporary health condition. Sometimes a simple thing like a cold or medication that you are taking can prevent you from donating blood.

What are the two kinds of waiting lists?

According to NOTTO, there are two types of waiting list; one is an urgent waiting list and another one is a regular waiting list. Urgent listing of patients for cadaver organ transplant is primarily based on medical criteria, i.e. patient needs organ on urgent basis otherwise he/she may not survive.

The regular waiting list is also based on medical criteria and these criteria are different for different organs. Like for kidney transplant, main criteria is time spent on regular dialysis. Similarly, for other organs, criteria are different.

Can one their status on the waiting list for organ transplantation?

Yes, that system of the waiting list is very transparent. You can know your status.

Can organs be removed after death, at home?

No, this is not possible. Only hospitals are equipped to handle organ transplants in a faster and proper way. Time plays a very important role in the process of organ transplantation

What is National Registry?

According to NOTTO website, the National Registry is:

I - Organ Transplant Registry:

The Organ Transplant Registry shall include demographic data about the patient waiting for transplant (Organ/hospital wise waiting list), donor (Living Donor including Related Donor, Other than Near Related Donor, Swap Donors and Deceased Donor), hospitals, follow up details of recipient and donor etc., and the data shall be collected from all retrieval and transplant centers.

Data collection may preferably be through a web-based interface or paper submission and the information shall be maintained both specific organ wise and also in consolidated formats.

The hospital or Institution shall update its website regularly in respect of the total number of the transplantations done in that hospital or institution along with a reasonable detail of each transplant and the same data should be accessible for compilation, analysis and further use by authorised persons of respective State Governments and Central Government.

II - Organ Donation Registry:

The Organ Donation Registry shall include demographic information of donor (both living and deceased), hospital, height and weight, occupation, primary cause of death in case of deceased donor, associated medical illnesses, relevant laboratory tests, donor maintenance details, driving license or any other document of pledging donation, donation requested by whom, transplant coordinator, organs or tissue retrieved, outcome of donated organ or tissue, details of recipient, etc.

III - Tissue Registry:

The Tissue Registry shall include demographic information on the tissue donor, site of tissue retrieval or donation, primary cause of death in case of deceased donor, donor maintenance details in case of brain stem dead donor, associated medical illnesses, relevant laboratory tests, driving license or any other document pledging donation, donation requested by whom, identity of counsellors, tissue(s) or organ(s) retrieved, demographic data about the tissue recipient, hospital conducting transplantation, transplant waiting list and priority list for critical patients, if these exist, indication(s) for transplant, outcome of transplanted tissue, etc.

IV - Organ Donor Pledge Registry:

The National Organ Donor Register is a computerized database which records the wishes of people who have pledged for organ and tissue donation. A person during their life can pledge to donate their organ(s) or tissue(s) after their death through Form 7 and submit it in paper or online to the respective networking organization and pledger has the option to withdraw the pledge through intimation.

There are many hospitals and organizations those are also maintaining the list of persons who have pledged organ donation with them, will be passed to National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation for National Register.

Why should you donate organs?

Because you can give a gift of life to someone else who is waiting for it. Because, after death, the organs will be of no use to you but will be life-changing for the person who receives your organs.

How can one contribute to the cause of organ donation?

One can, first pledge to donate their organs. Then, support or volunteer with an NGO like Donate Life. And last but not the least, help create awareness through various mediums.

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