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World Organ Donation Day: 13 August 2023, Let’s Know The Theme, History, Importance, Facts

As we unite on World Organ Donation Day, we recognize the transformative potential of organ donation, embodying the essence of humanity's collective desire to heal, support, and uplift one another in times of both triumph and adversity. So, let's celebrate the day.

Vivek Singh
World Organ Donation Day 2023 (Photo Courtesy: Pixabay)
World Organ Donation Day 2023 (Photo Courtesy: Pixabay)

World Organ Donation Day is commemorated worldwide every year on August 13, with the aim of increasing understanding regarding the significance of donating organs and dispelling misconceptions surrounding this vital act. It is a time to reflect on the remarkable selflessness of donors and their families, the medical advancements that make successful transplantation possible, and the ongoing need for awareness and education to bridge the gap between the availability of organs and the growing demand for life-saving transplants.

As we unite on this day, we recognize the transformative potential of organ donation, embodying the essence of humanity's collective desire to heal, support, and uplift one another in times of both triumph and adversity.

World Organ Donation Day Theme

In 2023, the theme for World Organ Donation Day is "Step up to volunteer; need more organ donors to fill the lacunae." This slogan serves as a global call to local communities, urging them to highlight the significance of committing to organ donation, ultimately reducing the demand for organs. Deceased donors are crucial in addressing the worldwide shortage of organs, and in countries like India, a single deceased donor can potentially save up to eight lives. While 144,302 organ transplants occurred globally in 2021, with 26.44% (38,156) being from deceased donors, India contributed 8% to this total with a focus on kidney (74.27%), liver (23.22%), heart (1.23%), lung (1.08%), pancreas (0.15%), and small bowel (0.03%) transplants.

Despite progress, India's deceased donor transplantations are only at 4.5% (552). A research report indicates an increase in deceased organ transplants in India for kidneys (759), liver (279), and heart (99) compared to 2021. However, the Indian Ministry of Health estimates a substantial demand for 175,000 kidneys, 50,000 livers, hearts, and lungs, and 2,500 pancreases. India's deceased donor rate remains below the required rate of 62 per ten lakh population, despite a consistent figure between 2013 and 2021. This is particularly poignant given that more than 1.5 lakh accident-related mortalities were reported in 2021, yet only 552 deceased brain deaths organ transplants were conducted according to the global organ donation report. Thus, increasing public awareness about voluntary organ donation registration can significantly alleviate the needs of patients awaiting organs for their survival.

History of Organ Donation Day

In 1954, Ronald Lee Herrick made history as the pioneer of organ donation when he selflessly gave his kidney to his twin brother. Dr Joseph Murray led the successful transplantation process. This groundbreaking achievement eventually led to Dr Murray being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1990 for his contributions to the field of organ transplantation.

Various regions worldwide approach organ donation awareness and importance differently, adapting to their circumstances and capabilities. In India, efforts to promote organ donation culminated in the establishment of National Organ Day on November 27, starting in 2010 under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, organized by the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO). However, in 2023, India shifted its focus to August 3rd, commemorating the country's first successful deceased-donor heart transplant on that date in 1994.

Importance of Organ Donation Day

Organ donation is a vital factor in preserving lives, offering a fresh beginning to those grappling with organ malfunction. Advances in medical science concerning organ donation have effectively dispelled misconceptions linked to the process. This occasion serves as an opportunity to underscore the significance of organ donation, aiming to foster comprehension that opting for organ donation voluntarily holds the potential to transform numerous lives. While individuals of all ages can contribute to organ donation, those below 18 must secure consent from a parent or guardian for registration.

Types of Organ Donation

Organ donation can be categorized into different types based on the source of the donated organ and the relationship between the donor and the recipient. Here are the main types of organ donation:

Deceased (Cadaveric) Donation: This type of donation occurs when organs are obtained from individuals who have passed away due to brain death or circulatory death. Organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and intestines can be retrieved from deceased donors. These organs are then transplanted into recipients in need.

Living Donation: Living donation involves the donation of organs or tissues by a living person. This type of donation is commonly used for organs that can regenerate or where only a portion is needed for transplantation. Examples of living donation include Kidney, Liver, Lung, etc.

Directed Donation: In a directed donation, a living or deceased donor specifically designates the intended recipient of their organ. This often occurs within families or close social circles.

Non-Directed (Altruistic) Donation: Non-directed donation involves a person who voluntarily donates an organ to a stranger in need. This selfless act helps to increase the pool of available organs and can have a positive ripple effect on organ transplantation.

Paired Exchange Donation: In cases where a living donor is not a suitable match for their intended recipient (often due to blood or tissue compatibility issues), a paired exchange can be arranged. This involves multiple pairs of donors and recipients, where donors are matched with recipients in a way that ensures each recipient receives a compatible organ.

Domino Donation (Chain Donation): Domino donation occurs when a single altruistic donor triggers a chain of transplantations, where each recipient has a living donor who doesn't match them but instead donates to another recipient in need, creating a chain of transplants.

Vascularized Composite Allograft (VCA) Donation: This type of donation involves transplanting multiple types of tissues, such as face, hands, or limbs, from a deceased or living donor to a recipient. VCAs are more complex and involve a combination of organs and tissues.

Some Facts About Organ Donation

  • In the event of natural demise, tissues like cornea, heart valves, bone, and skin are eligible for donation, whereas essential organs like heart, liver, intestines, kidneys, lungs, and pancreas can exclusively be contributed in cases of brain death.

  • There exists no specific age limit for organ donation; however, the donor's health conditions undergo rigorous scrutiny and monitoring.

  • Individuals under 18 wishing to donate an organ must secure parental or guardian consent through a signed authorization.

  • In 2015, a newborn who bequeathed a kidney to an adult afflicted by renal failure set a record as the youngest organ donor, living a mere 100 minutes post-birth.

  • The eldest documented donor hailed from Scotland, providing a cornea following the passing of a 107-year-old woman in 2016. The most advanced-aged organ donor on record was a 95-year-old gentleman from West Virginia, posthumously donating his liver for transplantation.

  • India has implemented the Human Organ and Tissue Transplantation Act to regulate organ donation nationwide, encompassing both deceased and living donors.

  • The demand for organ transplants surpasses the available supply by a significant margin, leading to extensive waitlists and regrettably, the loss of some patients awaiting organs.

  • Organ transplants necessitate compatibility between the donor and recipient in terms of blood and tissue types, alongside other factors, to minimize the risk of organ rejection.

  • Over the years, organ transplantation has achieved notable success rates, attributed to advances in surgical procedures, organ preservation techniques, and post-transplant care.

  • Several nations offer initiatives for donor registration, enabling individuals to formally express their intent to donate organs upon their demise.

  • The scarcity of organs has given rise to illicit organ trafficking, underscoring the urgency for ethical guidelines and stringent regulations.

The act of organ donation is intricate and profoundly influential, instilling optimism and a fresh lease on life in numerous individuals, all the while underscoring the significance of empathy, unity, and conscientious medical procedures.

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