What are advantages and disadvantages of organ donation?

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The advent of the concept of organ transplantation came as an important breakthrough in the medical field, in the 20th century. The idea behind organ donation and transplant is simple. A healthy organ (such as heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and intestines) or a tissue (such as bones and bone marrow, veins, cornea, heart valves, tendons, and skin) is removed from the body of the donor, living or dead, and is transplanted in that of the recipient. Such a surgery imparts a second chance to the recipient to lead a healthy life.

People may have many doubts regarding organ donation. While a person may wish to donate organs, his/her religious beliefs or family may contradict the same. However, the fact is that a selfless action like this, though controversial, can tilt the balance of life and death in favour of a person in need. Therefore, it is very essential to know and understand the pros and cons of donating organs, before one opts to do so.

Advantages of Organ Donation

People have many fallacies regarding organ donation, which stem due to lack of awareness. Organ donation has numerous benefits, and some of them are very obvious.

Social Responsibility

One has a social responsibility to do something for the betterment of the society in return of what he/she receives. Donating organs to the people in need and enabling them to survive is a good way by which one can serve the society. This way, one also helps humanity to a great extent. Moreover, the act of donating organs also ensures that a part of the donor stays alive (in someone else’s body) even after his/her death.

Helps the Families of the Deceased to Overcome Grief

When a loved one dies, the grief-struck family attempts to do everything that can help them overcome their sorrow. Some of them might resort to making charity on behalf of the deceased, while some others may decide unanimously, to donate the organs of the deceased and to gift a healthy and a productive life to a person in need. Though it doesn’t take away the pain of the loss, the very thought that somebody is able to live a comfortable life with the help of the heart or the eyes of one’s loved one, is very satisfying.

Imparts a New Hope to Live a Fruitful Life

Organ donation gives a new ray of hope to the recipients. The recipients are patients suffering from dysfunctional or failed organs/tissues. A sheer gesture of donating one’s healthy organs to such patients would give them a chance to live a healthy life for the second time. While some might be able to see after an eye transplant, some others might actually be able to live after, say a heart transplant. Improves the Quality of Life Transplanting healthy organs from the body of one person to that of the other also helps to a great extent to improve and enhance the quality of life of the recipient. This can be best witnessed in case of patients who suffer from kidney disturbance or failure. In order to live, they have to depend completely on kidney dialysis, and external artificial replacement for the function performed by the kidneys. The process is not only time-consuming and repetitive, but is also extremely expensive. A kidney transplant means a completely new and a healthy kidney in the patient’s body. This enables the patient to return to his/her normal routine, wherein he/she does not have to depend on artificial treatments in order to be alive. Saves Money Organ donation helps to reduce the hospital expenses of the recipient. The transplant may seem expensive when one actually gets it done, but in the long run, it saves a lot of money that would have otherwise been spent on treatments such as kidney dialysis, which demand heavy expenses from time to time. This is because the patient would receive a healthy organ from the donor, which will then perform its functions on its own.

Provides Material for Medical Research

Some people opt to donate their organs, and sometimes their entire bodies to hospitals, universities, and other medical research facilities. The medical scientists perform experiments on these donated organs, tissues, and bodies, in order to find cures and treatments for various complex medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, etc. The newly found treatments further aid the medical practitioners in saving human lives. Today, organ donation and organ transplantation has become routine in the field of medical sciences. The success rate of such surgeries is high. The number of donors is also on an increase year by year, with the awareness regarding organ donation spread among more and more people.

Disadvantages of Organ Donation

Organ donation and organ transplantation have always stirred a controversy, right since the beginning. People, who did not believe in the possibility of organ transplantation, criticised its earliest pioneers, primarily on ethical grounds. The argument was against the removal of vital organs and tissues from one human body and transplanting them into the other. Nevertheless, there were also many, who were in favour of the same because it saved lives. However, organ donation does have some disadvantages, although most of them result from popular misconceptions.

Complications During and After Surgery

There are certain possibilities of complications arising during and after the surgery that is performed for extracting the organs from the body of a living donor. Some of these complications might include excessive bleeding, clotting of blood, and/or infection on the site on which the surgery is conducted. While the doctors might be able to control most of these complications, there have also been some extremely rare instances, wherein the complications have proved to be fatal for the donor. Hampers the Overall Health in the Long Run Depending on the organ a live donor donates, he/she might face certain adverse effects due to its absence, in the long run. For instance, if one of the kidneys is donated, it might cause hypertension or kidney failure in the future. Similarly, a lung donor may suffer from various respiratory disorders, and a liver donor may face various gastrointestinal problems or liver failure. Psychological Effects on the Donor’s Family Organ donation might have adverse psychological effects on the family of the donor. In case of a deceased donor, the very thought of burying/cremating him/her without the vital organs can be extremely disturbing and painful. It might further add to the family’s grief. On the other hand, if the donor is still alive, the idea that he/she is living without one of the vital organs can be very unpleasant and upsetting for the family.