There are about 768 patients awaiting organ transplant In the state of Israel, and, sadly, the rate of organ donation is much lower than in other developed countries.
Our goal within this post is to explain in a simple manner a number of concepts regarding organ donation and the benefit it might bring in order to increase awareness and readiness to donate.
Organ donation is possible from either a live donor or a deceased one.
Donation from a live donor- A donation of an organ (such as kidney or lung), or a part of an organ (such as- liver). In Israel, the Ministry of Health allows organ donation from a live donor under the condition that the donor is a relative of the patient needing transplant, and that the donation is not made for financial reasons.
Donation from the deceased- donation of tissues and/or organs. The donation depends on the cause of death. If the cause of death is cardiac arrest, then tissues like cornea, heart valves, and bones can be donated. Organs cannot be transplanted if the patient died from a cardiac arrest. If the cause of death is brain death, then organs like heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, and liver can be donated.
Death is defined as the end of life of the human being. The end of life of a person is determined by two methods:
- Cessation of heart beats and respiration.
- Brain death- full and irreversible cessation of brain activity.
When the cause of death is a cardiac arrest, the blood flow which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the organ stops. The organs then stop functioning and thus they cannot be used.
When death is declared by brain death, there is a short time frame until the death of the brain leads to malfunctioning of body organs. Within that time frame, organs can be used for transplantation. This is the reason for the importance of harvesting the organs close to the time of declaration of brain death, while the heart is still beating, and before it and the other organs stop functioning.
There is some general hesitation to donate tissues in case of death from cardiac arrest. There is an even greater hesitation towards organ donation in case of brain death due to the fear that physicians would hasten the determination of brain death.
That is not the case!
Determination of brain death is made by two senior physicians who are not involved in organ transplantion and are not involved in the treatment of the patient. Determination of brain death is performed according to the regulations of the Ministry of Health.
One donor who has been declared as brain death can save the lives of 9 people:
- 2 cornea for 2 people
- 2 lungs for 2 people
- 2 kidneys for 2 people
- One heart for one person
- One pancreas for one person
- One liver for one person
One donor can save 9 lives!
This is in addition to the improvement of the quality of life of tissue recipients (corneas, heart valves, skin and bone) : people who can regain their sight, those recovering from severe burns (such as terror casualties), and those who need bone reconstruction.
The Barzilai Medical Center is an active participant in the national effort to increase organ donation. In the last couple of years, the medical center has been active in 5 cases of organs donations after determination of brain death in the hospital, and 41 tissue donations.
For further details and for signing an "Adi Donor Card" click on the National Center for Transplantation.