“Don’t be a full stop, be a comma in someone’s life.” – 14th February 2021
What is the National Organ Donor Day?
Apart from the very common 14th of February Celebration – Valentine’s Day, there is a much more important and necessary day of remembrance. It is in memory of those who succumbed to failure to receive an organ in time, to honor those who donated their organs and recognize those who were saved due to an organ donation or are still waiting to be saved. The National Organ Donor Day is a call for more prospective donors in order to save more lives.
What You Need to Know About Organ Donation in Sri Lanka
Despite Organ Donation being a norm in many countries, Sri Lanka is slightly behind the rest of the world in this aspect, with them being mainly focused on Kidney and Liver transplants only. A study conducted in 2017, reveals that there were approximately 400 renal transplants, however, this is in stark contrast to the number of deaths that occurred due to renal failure and inability to receive a functioning kidney in time.
At present there are only few kidney and liver transplant centres in Sri Lanka, which means the number of patients that can be treated is also restricted, hence registering in the transplant list is a huge gamble.
Kidney transplant centers in Sri Lanka
- The National Institute of Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation
- Western Hospital, Colombo
- Durdans Hospital, Colombo
- Lanka Hospitals, Colombo
- Kidney Transplant and Renal Care Unit, Kandy
- Asiri Health, Kidney Transplant Unit
Liver transplant centers in Sri Lanka
- National Hospital in Colombo
- Colombo North Teaching Hospital
The Evolution of Organ Transplant in Saudi Arabia
In 1979, Saudi Arabia conducted their first-ever kidney transplant from a living donor, then in 1985 deceased donor transplants came to occur with the inauguration of the Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation (SCOT), a governmental agency that supervises all national transplant activities in Saudi Arabia.
According to data collected by the Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation in 2015, we see a total of 9,807 (6969 living and 2828 deceased) kidney transplants, 779 renal transplants, 183 lung transplants, 310 heart transplants 1,793 liver and 35 pancreata transplants between 1985 and 2015. The King Faisal Cardiac Transplant Center in Riyadh alone transplanted 30 hearts in 2015.
What Organs Can You Donate?
Organ Donation can occur in two different phases of a person’s life – when they are alive and when they have passed. Hence, the scope of organ donation is a wide one, whereupon the living can donate a kidney, a lung, a part of their liver, pancreas or small intestine, whilst the deceased can donate both of their kidneys, liver, heart, pancreas, both of their lungs and their intestines. In addition to this, hands and faces were added to the organ donation list in 2014, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration (Health Resources and Services Administration, 2020)
Health Effects From Donating or Receiving an Organ
In most cases, there are no negative effects that arise due to the donation of an organ or a part of it, to the donor. However, in some cases, the donor may experience feelings of anxiety and depression that usually stem from the bodily damage (ie; scarring), or the immense thought given to their wellbeing. In some other cases, donors who donated kidneys also faced a higher chance of high blood pressure, proteinuria, and reduced kidney function.
Our bodies consist of an immune system that fights off any foreign body that it deems to be dangerous. After receiving an organ, there are possibilities for the immune system to reject the organ as it is foreign. To avoid this from happening, doctors usually prescribe immunosuppressants which allow the new organ to adjust to its new body. However, immunosuppressants bring along with its side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea, anemia, weakened bones, weight gain, higher cholesterol and blood pressure levels and mood swings.
Hence, it is always important to keep a close eye on individuals who have donated and received an organ to ensure they are doing well.
Organ Transplantation In a COVID-19 Era
An article published on the US National Library of Medicine encourages donors to be extremely wary in current circumstances.
- Donation is discouraged for asymptomatic individuals who have been in a COVID‐19‐affected area in the last 28 days.
- Asymptomatic individuals being monitored following contact with a proven case of COVID‐19 are excluded from donation.
- Individuals being investigated for COVID‐19 are excluded unless they are SARS‐CoV‐2 negative.
Although these rules seem far fetched, the main idea is to discontinue living donations unless otherwise it is of extreme necessity and comes from next of kin. Whilst deceased donations may take place after the organ has been tested for the virus. The American Society of Transplantation also advised against retrieval of organs from individuals who have been tested positive for the CoronaVirus.
Challenges and Obstacles
The biggest challenge with regards to organ transplants is the high demand for it, but low supply. Due to many preconceived notions and religious beliefs, individuals are hesitant to donate organs. Furthermore, due to unhealthy lifestyles, many organs are not viable to be used. The current pandemic, is currently the biggest challenge as individuals who have contracted the COVID-19 virus and are succumbed to death due to the virus, are not eligible to donate organs- as this number rises, the number of viable organ donations will also reduce simultaneously.
- Donate Life America. (n.d.). National Donor Day. Donate Life America. https://www.donatelife.net/celebrations/national-donor-day/
- Health Resources and Services Administration. (2020, April). What Can Be Donated? U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation. https://www.organdonor.gov/about/what.html#organs
- Shaheen, Faissal A. M. MD Organ Transplantation in Saudi Arabia, Transplantation: July 2016 – Volume 100 – Issue 7 – p 1387-1389 DOI: 10.1097/TP.0000000000001295
- Organ Transplantation and CoronaVirus: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7262041/