I’ve Just Become An Organ Donor. Here’s Why You Should Be One As Well

I have just become an organ donor. Because, for me, there is no better way to leave this earth and become part of stars again, than to make sure that a few people might benefit from my body.

Organ donation saves lives, and all over the world hospitals encourage people to register as donors. Pakistan has the Transplantation Society of Pakistan (part of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation SIUT) and you can become a donor in 5 minutes by filling out their online form. Within a few days, you get your donor card.

There is a shortage of human organs the world over,because of which many patients die; including in Pakistan where an estimated 50,000 people die each yeardue to end stage organ failure, according to the Transplantation Society of Pakistan. This figure includes 15,000 people with kidney failure, 10,000 with liver failure and 6,500 with heart failure. A majority of these patients can be saved if the required organs are available for transplantation. Dr Adib Rizvi, Director of SIUT, considers the figure to be much higher, at approximately 150,000 annually.

There is not a lot of information and education to foment the growth of organ donation culture in Pakistan. A Human Organ Transplant Authority (HOTA) has been established and according to HOTA rules and regulations, government hospitals are directed to identify brain dead patients and inform HOTA accordingly. A transplantation ordinance was promulgated in 2007, which targets the illegal sale of human organs in exchange for money, a problem that was and is rampant in Pakistan. In 2016, The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was passed in the National Assembly.

However, there is no education or information raising programme that promotes voluntary organ donation from deceased persons. SIUT provides free treatments and transplants to 2 million people annually; and is working with the medical community, civil society and media to help develop a deceased organ donation culture in the country. The Layton Rahmatullah Benevolent Trust (LRBT) also provides free corneal transplants and can be nominated for cornea donations.

Organs or tissues can be obtained from either a living or deceased person. A living person may donate a kidney or a piece of their liver in addition to blood, bone marrow, skin or bone. However, what is extremely crucial to understand is that multiple organs and tissues may be obtained from a deceased person, including kidneys, liver, pancreas, heart, lung and intestine and corneas.There is also no age limit for deceased organ donation. From a newborn baby to a 75-year person, all are eligible to become donors.

Pakistanis are also unaware that almost all Muslim countries with organ transplant facilities are performing deceased organ transplants including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Egypt, and Bangladesh among others.

One of our most important heroes – a man who dedicated his whole life to serving others – did not let death deter him from serving humanity. His last wish was for his viable organs to be donated. His corneas were thus transplanted into someone else. So, when you put up Abdul Sattar Edhi sb’s picture on your social media pages and pledge to live like him, one of the best things you can do is to make sure that you become an organ donor. Talk to your families and friends and convince them too. Your heart, liver, lungs or corneas can save a life or enable someone to see. It is better than becoming worm food. As your last living act, give the gift of life to someone else – be an organ donor.

(Published in Dunya Blogs)