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What I need to know about Organ Donation and Transplantation


By: Dr. Cesar Gonzalez – Transplantologist


Have you thought about donating your organs?

What does it mean to be an Organ Donor?

Becoming a donor means that, in case you die, your organs could still live in another person. The transplant will work for the recovery of the person who is ill on bed, for many people is the only solution they have in order to stay alive.

Who can be an organ donor?

Organ donors are people who die in hospitals for problems that irreversibly damage their brain. Anyone who dies in a hospital and doesn’t have cancer, infections and their bodies are in good medical conditions, can be a donor of organs and tissues. Organ donors are usually people who suffered a traffic accident and had bleeding and strokes in the brain that caused a strong edema (swollen) and does not allow cerebral circulation so they die. Similarly there may be other causes such as brain aneurysms in arteries (vessels with very thin walls) and tear, and therefore severe bleeding.

Why organ donors are usually found in the Intensive Care Unit?

Organ donors are people who have brain death, if artificial breathing is maintained, it will deliver oxygen to all the organs that can continue to function. These conditions can only be achieved in an intensive care unit and the only organs that can be maintained as viable are: kidneys, liver, pancreas, heart or lungs, for hours.

What organs can be donated in case of brain death?

Kidneys, liver, pancreas, heart, lungs, and intestines.

Which organs can be donated in life?

A kidney, a liver segment, a lung segment and bone marrow.

What tissue can be donated in case of death?

Skin, corneas, bone, tendons, heart valves, blood vessels, and limbs.

How many types of Organ Donors are there?

  1. A) Live donor related (parents, children, and siblings).
  2. B) Not related living donor (Spouse, friends).
  3. C) Corpse donor (Brain death).

What do religions think about donating organs and tissue?

Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Hindu religions are in favor of donation.

There are numerous encyclicals and pastoral recent popes and Catholic Bishops in favor of donation. They consider donating organs as giving life to other sick people and an act of charity similar to that of Jesus giving his life for mankind.

If you have any doubts you can consult with a staff priest or the hospital.

Jehovah’s Witnesses who show categorically their opposition to blood transfusions, have in contrast, no opposition to organ donation nor to transplantation, providing them the assurance that they will not receive no type of blood transfusion during surgery. Currently, this condition can be perfectly assumed in most kidney transplants.

What minimum conditions are required to be a donor?

Organ donors are people of all ages (from newborns to 70 years or more) who are in good health until the time of donation. They cannot have cancer or other infectious or unclear causes that can transmit diseases by donating.

What types of donations can be made?

Living donation: You can give an organ or part of it, whose extraction is compatible with life and whose function can be compensated adequately and sufficiently secured by the donor agency. The donor must be of legal age, enjoy full mental faculties and an adequate health condition. The donor must always be previously informed of the consequences of his decision, must have given their expressed consent, freely, consciously and selflessly.

Can the donor family meet the recipients of donated organs?

The Health Act requires anonymity in a donation, so it isn’t possible to disclose the identity of the recipient donor and vice versa. However, families of donors are informed of the fate of donated organs, the age and circumstances of the illness of recipients and transplant surgery after surgery.

What if the family opposes donation?

A person can become a donor at a time of their life and change their mind later. It is assumed that the family is aware of the last will of the deceased. But it is very important that the family knows the will whether to donate or not, as it always happens, the will of the family is fulfilled once deceased.

When a person donates a kidney in life, does it shortens their life?

False. Before performing a living donation protocol, studies and medical assessments are done and must be approved by a transplant committee, this ensures that after donating a kidney, life will remain the same, without repercussions. Therefore, after a period of a 4 weeks recovery and a healthy diet and exercise (these latest recommendations are indicated to all people whether they donate a kidney or not), people can continue their education, work, and women can have children without problem.

What are the chances of success in a Kidney Transplant?

Presently, with the advent of new drugs, compatibility studies and new surgical techniques, the chances of success have increased to 98 %.

Renal Transplantation is the best treatment option for a patient with chronic renal failure, there’s even a greater chance of success and increased survival of the transplanted kidney if performed before reaching hemodialysis or in patients who have little time on hemodialysis.

The survival of a transplanted kidney is twenty years on average. Before a transplant is performed, studies and medical exams have to be carried out to ensure the success of transplantation.

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