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Top 10 Myths Around Organ Transplants Busted

A lot of misconceptions and myths revolving around organ transplantations and their process exist out there. Some of the major ones are discussed here.

The modern era of technological advancement has shifted the world towards new development. When it comes to the healthcare sector, organ transplantation is serving wonders for mankind. Not only it is one of the most successful advances in modern medicine but even for the patients, it is serving a new hope for survival. Organ transplantation refers to a medical procedure in which an organ is removed from a donor’s body and placed in the body of a recipient, to replace any form of damaged, failure or missing organ. With the help of Organ transplantation, patients suffering from chronic illness such as diabetes or any physical injuries can live a healthier and longer lifespan.

The criteria for organ transplant include a sequence of tests to determine the kind of donor organ to best fit the recipient and prevent organ transplant rejection. Initially, organ transplantation was restricted to only to the vital organs. However, with developed medical and surgical process have paved new paths for transplantation of several organs. A lot of misconceptions and myths revolving around organ transplantations and its process exist out there. Some of the major ones are as follows:

1. Live organ donation is a threat to life and leaves one handicapped for life.

Organ retrieval from a donor is a surgical procedure like any other and is carried out with all the precautions. Only a healthy individual can donate and that too after going through a battery of tests. Many centres are also providing minimally invasive procedures like Laparoscopic organ harvesting, which causes less pain and has superior aesthetic results. Typically, after the donation, one can resume his normal activities in a couple of weeks

2. Only blood group matched individuals can donate.

Till very recently, only blood group matched individuals could donate and it was a big limiting factor affecting the organ donor pool. However, with the development of ABO incompatible (ABO-i) techniques across different blood groups, transplantations have become feasible. The results of this ABO-i transplant has improved dramatically and has reached almost the same as in blood group matched transplants.

3. In paediatric patients, we require a paediatric donor.

Across all solid organ transplants, paediatric and adolescent donors are not accepted. Only an adult organ is transplanted with modified techniques to match the patient’s medical requirements.

4. Why go for an organ transplant when dialysis does the job?

Dialysis is a form of renal replacement therapy for kidney failure patients. While it is very effective, it falls far short of what a functioning kidney does. Moreover, long term results of dialysis have limitation because of complications and mortality risk of about 10 per cent per year.

5. Cadaveric organ transplant is inferior to living organ transplant

This is not true. Appropriately managed diseased donor organs perform just like in living donors. In countries with mature Cadaveric transplant programs, more than 60 per cent of organs are harvested from diseased donors.

6. Only immediate family members can donate.

Human Organ Transplant Act was drafted for prevention of commercial dealings in human organs. This restricts the pool of potential donors to immediate relatives. Many a times, when no suitable donors are available in the family, the law does permit extended options, like paired exchange (swap transplant), altruistic donation (donation without any coercion or monetary incentives). These special cases are dealt by the State Level Authorization Committee.

7. Organ transplant is prohibitable expensive.

Unlike dialysis for kidney failure patients, we do not have effective management of liver failure patients. Even Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD) to manage cardiac failure patients are very expensive modality. Compared to the cost of maintaining a patient on end stage organ disease, organ transplantation is a cheaper option.

8. Only young people can donate organs.

Anyone between 18 and 70+ years can donate, provided they are healthy. Only after a detailed assessment, a donor is accepted with the aims to prevent donor morbidity and to ensure a good recipient outcome

9. Is it true that once a brain-dead patient’s relatives consent for donation, doctors stop trying to cure the patient?

It’s not true at all. In fact, once a patient becomes brain dead, doctors have to more aggressively manage all physiological parameters to sustain life. Patients’ vitals like, temperature, blood pressure, respiration and blood parameters etc. are managed aggressively to sustain life as long as family desires. Moreover, if these means are not pursued, vital organs like kidney, liver etc. would itself become diseased and unsuitable for use in organ transplant.

10. Only the heart, liver and kidneys can be donated.

Everyone has the option of becoming an organ donor, and if they do, they can give any or all of their organs like heart, liver, kidney, lungs, pancreas, small bowel.



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