Introduction

Organ donation is the process of donating organs or biological tissue to a living recipient who is in need of a transplant. Vital organs like the heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, and pancreas can be donated only in the case of ‘brain death’. However other tissues like corneas, heart valves, skin, bones etc can be donated only in case of natural death. Indian statistics indicate the death of 500,000 people each year due to the nonavailability of organs. Organ donation has proven that indeed age is just a number with mere toddlers passing on the gift of life.

Age Is Nothing But A Number!

No parent should ever have to bury their child. However such harrowing pain was the fate of the parents of 14-month-old Somnath Shah. Evening playtime incurred a woeful ending when young Somnath accompanied by his older sister slipped and fell down a staircase. He was rushed to a local doctor in an unconscious state who immediately urged the redirection of the case to the Surat Civil Hospital. CT – scans revealed brain hemorrhage and multiple fractures which later proved fatal as the toddler was declared dead that same evening!

Life After Death

Amidst such tragedy, Somnath’s parents were able to overlook their grievances and made the decision to donate Somnath’s organs. They gave a lease to two other unknown children despite just having lost their own. Somnath’s heart was transplanted into a 3-year-old Mumbai girl who had been suffering from viral myocarditis for over a year which had slowed down her heart’s pumping rate. Her young age imposed difficulty in finding a suitably sized heart for her but a social media campaign ‘Save Aaradhya’, helped the doctors find a heart for her. Somnath’s father was quoted as saying  “God was gracious to bless us with a son last year. But we never thought he would leave us so early. So what if we have lost him? He still lives in Aaradhya,” whilst also expressing his wish to visit Aaradhya in Mumbai once his last rites are done. The kidneys only 6 cm long were harvested at Institute of Kidney Diseases and Research Centre (IKDRC) in Ahmedabad for a 15-year-old boy Pankaj from Deesa, Gujarat who had endured dialysis thrice a week. The boy was suffering from acute renal failure for the last 10 years and is still haunted by the memory of the numerous needle pricks he had to tolerate for so long. All he knows is that a little boy has saved him and is grateful to him!

Awareness

Each year ends with hundreds losing their lives due to the shortage of organ donors in the country. Global statistics show India as lagging in this sector with a mere 0.26 donations per million compared to 26 per million and 36 per million for the US and Spain respectively. It is predicted that the future entails an even greater increase in the gap between the number of organ donors required and the number of organs that are actually donated. Even though several government-registered NGO organizations are at work, the challenge continues. Some of the biggest obstacles currently hindering the organ donation would be lack of awareness towards organ donation, lack of organ donor registration and discussion with one’s family and misconceptions and myths pertaining to organ donation. If such hindrances could be eradicated the result would be a new lease of life to hundreds. One organ donor can save up to 8 lives and enhance the lives of many others through tissue donation. Why destroy the gift of life when you can donate it!

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