Our body is made up of many organs that perform very specific functions. These organs are systems of cells and tissues that are assigned specific tasks like respiration, digestion etc. The capacity of these organs to perform the given tasks diminished with age. The main organs that experience this deterioration are heart, lungs and kidneys. Normally, these organs deteriorate along with the entire body. But diseases that hit specific organs ultimately destroy them sooner while the rest of the body remains healthy.
When an organ is struck by a disease and is deteriorating because of it, some treatments work. Just like dialysis works for kidneys. But if all other treatments fail, organ transplantation is the best alternative. In this procedure the damaged organ is replaced with a healthy one.
Healthy organs are not easy to find. The only sources are from those who have registered themselves as organ donors. This results in long waiting lists of recipients. And as mentioned earlier, since there aren't as many donors as recipients, the list keeps getting longer and longer. There are incidents when a patient loses his life waiting for an organ transplant.
This is the time when they look for family and friends who can donate. These are called as living donors.
So, what kind of organs can you donate?
Firstly there are life saving organs like heart, kidney, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. Sometimes while repairing joints and bones, other tissues such as bones, ligaments and tendons can be used. For the purpose of donation all these organs are appropriate. Some of the other organs that can be donated are corneas, heart valves and skin.
What are the options while waiting for an organ donor?
Sometimes the wait time for an organ is too long. Instead of sitting on a waiting list and getting sicker, many patients turn to family and friends for help. As mentioned earlier, this is called as a living donation. Whole kidneys are the most commonly donated organs via living donation. More recently, parts of liver and lungs are also donated in this manner. The part of the organ that was taken regenerates so there is no harm done.
Lastly, for any organ transplant to happen there has to be an appropriate match. Donated organs are matched for various criteria such as blood and tissue type, immune status. Other factors like medical emergency and the time spent on the waiting list are also taken into account.
The only limitation here would be for those who are detected with HIV or cancer or with disease causing bacteria in their bloodstream. These are the conditions when organ donation is exempted.
There is always going to be a deficit of organs required for transplant and the demand is always going to be high. This is exactly why voluntary organ donation is so important. The good news is that there is no age limitation for donation. It is definitely a noble deed and can give someone a lease of new life.