Recently while working as a nurse at a nearby hospital,
I was privileged to witness an incident that became an eye opener for me into
the world for saving lives. One of the
young girls in our city, who was engaged to get married in a week started to
show flu like symptoms. She went to the
nearby urgent care clinic and received Tamiflu (antibiotic) for the flu. Later
during the day, she started to develop pneumonia like symptoms and got admitted
in the hospital the next day. Few hours after she got admitted to CCU, her
situation started to get worse and worse. She finally has to say goodbye to her
fiancé and her mother. Death have stolen her dreams about life and her marriage
with her fiancé. It gave all our colleagues who worked that night a big chill
realizing how death have stolen such a beautiful young soul.
We have called the Life Share immediately after her
demise per hospital protocols. To our surprise, it was determined that the girl
was registered as an organ donor. The girl’s body was kept on the ventilators
until the folks from Life Share arrived at the hospital. During the families
grieving process, Life Share team discussed the importance of organ donation
and its importance of how her organs were going to give life to those who were
listed on the waiting list awaiting organ transplantation. The girl’s family
was very receptive and willing to donate all those organs that can be donated. The parents understood that by donation, they
would be able to bring her organs a second life, and life for those who were
awaiting on the waiting list for transplants. Even though it was such a hard
time, the organ donation effort helped to make good come out of that turmoil.
According to the statistics from the United States Department
of Health & Human Service, more than 116000 lives are on national
transplant waiting list as of August 2017. More than 33,611 transplants were
made in 2016. According to the statistics, 20 people die each day waiting for a
transplant. The statistics shows that one person is added to the waiting list
every 10 minutes, but only 3 in 1000 people dies in a way that allows for organ
donation. On an average, 92 transplants
take place in US daily (HRSA Website).
There is a wide gap between organ donation and transplants despite
increased awareness of organ donation and transplantation, and advances in
medicine and technology (CDC Website).
One organ donor can save eight lives. We can transplant
eight of the major organs from a donor, along with faces and hands, corneas and
tissues, bone marrow, skin, and heart valves.
In most cases, organ donors are deceased, but there are some organs that
can be donated by living donors as well. Organ donation of living donors
includes one kidney, a lung, portion of the liver, pancreas, or intestine (HRSA
The first step towards saving lives starts with
registering your consent in your home state with the organ donation agencies.
Signing up does not guarantee that a person will be able to donate. Only after brain death has been confirmed and
the time of death noted, can organ donation become a possibility. The hospital
notifies the local Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) for every patient that
has died or is nearing death, thereby keeping with federal regulations. The hospital gives the OPO information about
the deceased patient to confirm whether he or she has the potential to be a
If the person could be a candidate for donation, a
representative from the OPO travels immediately to the hospital. To receive the legal consent for donation,
the OPO representative searches to see if the deceased is registered as a donor
on their state registry. If the deceased has not registered, the OPO will ask
the next of kin for authorization. A
medical evaluation takes place, including the collection of the deceased’s
medical and social history after the authorization.
The OPO contacts the Organ Procurement and
Transplantation Network (OPTN), who operates the national database of all
patients in the U.S. waiting for a transplant. The OPO enters information about
the deceased donor into the computer system and the system generates a list of
patients who match the donor (by organ). Each available organ is offered to the
transplant team of the best-matched patient (HRSA Website).
Most organs go to patients in the area where the organs
were recovered. The others are shared with patients in other regions of the
country. While the search for matching
recipients is under way, the deceased donor’s organs are maintained on
artificial support. Machines keep blood containing oxygen flowing to the
organs. The condition of each organ is carefully monitored by the hospital
medical staff and the OPO procurement coordinator. The surgical team removes the organs and
tissues from the donor’s body in an operating room. Organs remain healthy only for a short period
of time after removal from the donor, so minutes count. The OPO representative
arranges the transportation of the organs to the hospitals of the intended
recipients. The transplant recipient is
typically waiting at the hospital and may already be in the operating room
awaiting the arrival of the lifesaving organ.
Organ procurement organizations (OPO) provide the public
the opportunity for volunteering as well as providing awareness on the
importance of becoming an organ donor.
The major roles of OPOs includes increasing the number of registered donors
and, co-ordination of organ donation process.
Today United States have 58 OPOs with their respective service areas
that help with the organ donation. Oklahoma
state uses the OPO organization called Life Share. A list of local OPOs can be
found from the US Government information on Organ Donation and Transplantation
website at https://organdonor.gov/awareness/organizations/local-opo.html
Many companies are taking initiatives to ease the
longstanding shortage of organ donors.
Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that he wanted to make it as a new initiative
of their company, after seeing his friend and the founder of Apple Steve Jobs
enduring a big wait for a liver transplant.
In 2016, companies like Facebook, Tinder, ORGANIZE and Twitter took an
initiative by developing tools and advocacy groups to register a minimum of 1
million organ donors by fall of 2016. As
a company, we can also partner or develop initiatives to raise the awareness on
the importance of organ donation. Doing
so, we can make a great impact to those lives who are waiting for transplants as
well as our community.
Website. Transplant safety. Retrieved on Nov 24, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/transplantsafety/index.html
S. Heath Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). Find your local organ procurement organization. Retrieved on Nov
24, 2018, from https://organdonor.gov/awareness/organizations/local-opo.html
S. Heath Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). Organ donation statistics. Retrieved on Nov 24, 2018, from https://www.organdonor.gov/statistics-stories/statistics.html
S. Heath Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). The deceased donation process. Retrieved on Nov 24, 2018, from https://www.organdonor.gov/statistics-stories/statistics.html