Organ Donation: Fulfilling the will


Dr Abhishek Garg

This was the first thing that came to my mind when I decided to sign myself as an Organ-Body donor. I was 20; it was 2016 and the only motivation I had was the fact that a single organ-body donor has the power of saving upto 8 lives.

Organ donation is giving an organ to someone else who needs a transplant. Organ donation is an amazingly generous act and can save thousands of lives. However, this relies on donors and their families agreeing to donate.

The need for organ has gone up substantially all over the world. India too suffers from acute organ shortage with little to no solution for this issue. It is estimated that every year 1.5 lakh people suffer from renal failure out of which only 3000 people get donors. Similarly, every year around 2 lakh people die of liver failure or cancer and rarely get any help in the form of organ donors. It is the same for heart patients, for every 50,000 heart attack patients there are only 15 hearts available for transplant. Therefore, we need widespread campaigns to spread awareness about organ donation in India and to bridge the gap between supply and demand. The numbers that are mentioned here are estimates and real numbers could be far more than this, it is scary because this means very few people get relief and get a second chance in life.

A lot of people/organizations are now taking up the cause of organ-body donation by organizing awareness drives in the form of public lectures, seminars, symposiums, panel discussions etc. Not only this, even sports people are coming forward by organizing/participating in public gatherings like walkathon, marathon, cyclothon to sensitize people for this cause.

All these efforts are appreciable and are much needed in a society like ours but let us come back to the ground reality- how many people that we aware are willing to take up the cause? How many people sign their pledge forms? Even if the pledges are signed how many of them are actually fulfilled? There is a huge difference between the number of pledges signed and the number of wills actually being executed. This is what we call a poor conversion rate.


Well when I raised an eyebrow and said- “in a society like ours”, I was talking about the myths and disbelieves that have become the guiding principles in our communities; we lack a rational mindset. People still believe that if they donate their eyes they will be born blind in the next birth; myths like these are a mockery to this scientific era. This is one dark side of our young country which is responsible for very less number of pledges taken. Making a pledge is not mandatory for organ donation but it does help the family to make the right decision. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that at the time of signing up as an organ donor, one shares the decision with the family. Here comes the responsibilities of a donor, a donor must not sign the pledge in secrecy rather he/she should pledge donating organs publicly and should talk about it with his/her family.

We should motivate the donors to showcase their pledges, they should make it public, one idea could be showcasing it as a wall hanging in their homes, doing that a donor completes his duties and here begins the responsibilities of the family/society.

Death is not a taboo. A society aiming to bridge the gap between organ demand and supply should be able to take the talk on organ donation to dinner tables, we should not be scared of death, it is as much a truth as life is; the important point is how do we plan our death. Most of the us have a legal will regarding our bank balance, properties, materialistic things etc. Only a handful of us takes a donor pledge- a social will about our body/organ after death.

Taking up a pledge like this requires immense motivation and dedication. A donor has to fight family, overcome mental/social hurdles and lift themselves above myths and sheer disbelief. Organ donation is the supreme gift of life, it essentially requires active support of the society at large. Organ donation requires not just a determined donor but a determined family. Awareness sessions should not just aim to motivate a person for taking up the pledge, the sessions should also focus on family counselling. Individual efforts will fail to bring up a change in the situation, we need a collective involvement of all the sections of the society.

It’s not always a person who needs to understand his/her duties towards the community, organ-body donation is one aspect where the community needs to understand it’s duty towards a person. We should respect the feelings of a donor- the feelings that they had at the time of signing their pledge. The community should be supportive and vocal. At the time of acute pain and grief, if the family is unable to take up the brave decision, the community should come forward and become the backbone of the donation. This way we can increase the conversion rates and in my opinion if one can successfully save lives even on a death bed then it’s the best tribute they can offer to the mankind.

The question still remains unanswered:

“ Will the society fulfill my social will or will they just fulfill my legal will?”