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Debunk Myths associated with Organ Donation

By Dr. Gaurav Pandey in Kidney Transplant

Aug 16 , 2022 | 3 min read

We think about organ donation only when a close relative or a family member is in a critical state and requires a transplant. Organ donation is a serious issue across the globe, especially in India.

According to a report published by Organ India, approximately half a million Indians are in dire need of a life-saving organ transplant. Though the figure is mind-shattering, sadly, fewer than a thousand transplants are performed yearly from deceased donors. And the number of living donor transplants is even less.

The lack of awareness about this noble cause and a few misconceptions keep people from signing up as donors. The transplant procedure can be intimidating, so it is necessary to dismantle misinformation. Some questions, myths and facts about organ transplants include:

Myth- You can donate only one organ

Fact- You can save up to eight lives! A deceased donor can donate organs, including kidneys, pancreas, heart, liver, small intestine and lungs. In addition, tissues like the corneas and skin and bone tissues like heart valves, tendons, blood vessels and cartilage can also be donated to improve the lives of many in need.

Myth- Organ donation can happen only from deceased donor

Fact- You can be alive and donate. Living donation is when you donate one of your organs or a part of any organ (e.g. the liver transplant and kidneys transplant) while you are still alive. Medical professionals assess if your organ can be transplanted to the recipient based on investigations. The success rate of living donation is exceptionally good and causes no harm to the donor’s health in long term as per published literature.

Myth: Stem cell donation is painful

Fact: stem cell donation is similar to donating plasma. Blood is collected in an apheresis machine which filters out the stem cells and returns the remaining blood to the body. Only 10% of the donation is collected from the bone marrow. Medications are provided a week or two before the procedure to increase the number of stem cells that can be collected. Some pain can be expected while the medications are ongoing, but it subsides after the complete donation process.

Myth-Living donors will not live a healthy life with one kidney.

Fact- The living donor can lead a healthy and fulfilling life with one kidney because one kidney can perform the function done by two kidneys.

Myth: Donation is expensive for the donor

Fact: The donor does not incur any bills for the donation

Myth- Living donors can’t have children after donating kidneys.

Fact: Living female donors can have children normally. The pregnancy puts pressure on the remaining kidney, but healthy single kidney can cope up with increased demand.

Myth- My blood type can change after a bone marrow transplant.

Fact- Yes, there is a chance your blood type will change after a bone marrow transplant. Typing is done by looking for a specific protein called HLA (human leukocyte antigen), so blood type does not matter in the process. Thus, your blood type can change to the donor’s blood type. It can take up to a year for it to fully develop.

Myth- I can inherit the biological traits of my donor.

Fact-That is not possible. Donors are chosen for their protein match. Gender cannot be passed through donating stem cells or bone marrow. Just like blood donation, the genders of the donor and recipient do not matter.

Myth: Donating is not possible for the members of the LGBTQIA+ community

Fact: Donation is not a problem if you’re a healthy individual with balanced body weight and no chronic disease. Anybody can donate!

Myth- Living donors need to take anti-rejection medicines after donating a kidney.

Fact-The living donors need not take anti-rejection medications. The recipients will be taking anti-rejection medications.

The waiting list for organ transplants is increasing with each passing year. There is a dire need for liver, heart, kidney, and lung transplants, not just amongst older people, but for children as well. Organ donation is a selfless and courageous act, so make a difference in someone’s life and gift them a new beginning.


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