Over two lakh people in India await kidney transplant and one lakh patients need a new liver to survive. Unfortunately, only a handful of them get a donated organ for the procedure. The severity of the problem can be attributed to widely prevalent myths in the country surrounding organ donation. Every year, countless lives are lost owing to superstition and misconceptions about organ donation.
If you have ever held yourself back from pledging to donate your organs or even considering the option, it’s time to separate fact from fiction. Here are some common myths regarding organ donation you may have come across and must stop believing now:
Myth: Organ donation is against my religion
Fact: Since it is an act of compassion, all religions – Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity – support organ and tissue donation. Saving lives, even in death, is something nearly all religions advocate.
Myth: I am too old for donation
Fact: There is no age limit for organ donation. A 107-year-old woman donated her corneas a couple of years ago. Even people in their 70s and 80s have saved the lives of others through organ and tissue donation. Don’t rule yourself out as the donor list is woefully lacking. Contribute to preventing unnecessary deaths without letting your age come in the way.
Myth: It’s best to let the family decide
Fact: If you wish to donate your organs, clearly communicate this to your family. Often, families decline donation because they have no idea what the deceased wanted. If you have discussed it with them, they will certainly be more open to the idea. Moreover, most donor families confess to having found comfort in the fact that it was something their loved one wanted, even in the face of great loss.
Myth: I am not healthy enough
Fact: Being in perfect health isn’t a prerequisite. You can donate even if you smoke and drink or have an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle. What determines suitability, instead, is the condition of your organ and tissues, how and where the death happens etc.
Myth: Organ donation disfigures the corpse
Fact: This is probably the most popular myth about organ donation. The procedure for harvesting organs is a specialised one that does not disfigure the body. Any surgical incisions made are closed and covered, as with any other operation, and are not visible under the person’s clothes. A donor’s body is treated with utmost respect and dignity, and the body is returned to the family to finish the final rites.
Myth: If I register, the doctor won’t try hard enough when my life is on the line
Fact: A doctor’s priority is always their patient. This is a common misconception, even among the educated. Registering as an organ donor doesn’t make the doctor care less or become callous with your life. The job and priority of hospitals, health staff, doctors, and nurses are keeping your life out of danger. Organ donation is an option only when saving the life of the patient isn’t possible, and death is inevitable. Until then organ donation is most certainly off the table.
Myth: Enough people donate, so I don’t need to
Fact: India has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the world – 0.26 per million as opposed to 36 per million in a country such as Spain. We need more donors than we already have. Every donor can make a difference, by saving many lives.
Myth: It’s my choice, I don’t have to discuss it with family
Fact: Your family must know if you’re registering as a donor. They have an equally essential role to play since they will be asked to confirm the donation decision. Your family is involved in each step, being asked to provide vital health information. So, do discuss your choice with loved ones and prepare them to be comfortable with the process.
By donating organs, you can save up to eight lives! Don’t let these myths and misconceptions keep you from donating your organs. Register as a donor and make a useful contribution to society, long after you are gone.