Awareness For Organ Donation: Youth, The Change Maker

Vinod Agarwal

In present arena, youth play an important role as “Change Makers” for the society in any country. In Bharat this role becomes multi - dimensional as this category constitutes more than 60 percent of its population. The methodology of this aspect is the fact that, this group can spark the family conversations, impress upon the friends, club-members, working partners, colleagues and society at large, which is required to change their opinion and raise the voice on any issue particularly on organ donations. Youth understands the need of awareness about organ donation and can play vital role to tackle shortage of organ donors.

Since Organ transplantation has started in our country and around the globe, wide difference in availability and requirement of all the transplantable organs and tissues is being experienced by the surgeons. When it is diagnosed that the original organs in the human body, provided by the almighty can no longer perform the normal function and can’t be cured by medication or surgery, then transplantation is the last resort for the survival of these patients. It is observed that there is a long list of patients needing transplantation and availability is minimal. India is struggling with acute shortage of organs for transplantation. It is estimated that more than half a million people suffer with end stage organ failure, but only a handful of 3,500 transplants are performed annually.

Various efforts by the Government, Doctors, Transplantation co-ordinators, and hundreds of NGOs working in the area for this noble cause are also not able to bring the desired results and peg the gap between demand and supply. All the stake holders need to analyse the whole scenario, systems, and factors involving all the constraints. No doubt, the problem is grave and difficult but at the same time it has the solutions if tackled properly, diligently as it pertains to all the ailing human beings desirous to live, survive and lead a normal life.

It is pitiable that a meagre percentage of people pledge to donate their organs, whereas nearly five lakh people are dying in the wait for a transplant in India. The focus must be on building awareness about the initiative among all the stake holders in the society for pledging their organs. The government needs to support and boost the initiative taken by the Health experts, Co-ordinators along with NGO volunteers and youth particularly the student fraternity. All these initiatives need to be transformed into a campaign or a movement.As one of the aims of the campaign is to simplify the understanding of organ donation process for people, the event focused on clearing the masses’ doubts and apprehensions. “There are many doubts and myths among people which can be cleared through direct communication. Organ donation is still not publicly accepted as much as blood donation. The biggest challange about organ donation, is to convince people in case of brain death because the body remains warm and patient is still breathing”. If the preconceptions and stigma are removed then a lot can be done for organ donation.

A well-organized approach is required to raise awareness among the youth about various aspects of Organ Donations which is necessary to eliminate the setbacks that affect the rate of availability of organ donors. Motivational messages and facts are some of the means to bring about changes regarding perceptions and intentions about donations among the youngsters. Other educational tools such as advertisements, campaigns, exhibitions, and lectures can improve the awareness and attitude among the population. Since media plays major role in communication these days, they should take up the initiative of broadcasting the legislative laws that are involved. Unfortunately, very few people in India have some idea about organ donation, or how they can potentially help after the death.

Various interactive and educational activities such as discussions with health experts, organ recipients and donors need to be introduced. These may be puzzles, street-plays and a painting competition for children, the event catered to all age groups widening the scope of the campaign’s influence. Debates in schools at secondary and senior secondary levels, Seminars in Colleges and professional institutions, Workshops in offices and other institutions, Awareness programmes in Police, security and para-military establishments, lectures and discourses in religious celebrations, thought provocative sessions, short act play depicting the necessity of organ donations in parks, clubs and other public places for senior citizens, group of patients and care givers in hospitals and consultation clinics, nursing homes, may bring the initial change in mind set of the masses.

Every prescription slip in the hospitals must have the requisite information and slogans in favour of organ donation (As it used to be for family planning in sixties and seventies). It may be in the form of a questionnaire having illustrations.

  1. What will be the source of organ for him, in case, an organ failure is found in his body. Who will be the donor?
  2. Will he or she will be willing to pledge to donate his or her organs, after death.
  3. Will they be willing to compensate or accept any compensation in this type of situation.
  4. A part of the national education curriculum.

Some incentive measures ( whether monetary or otherwise) may also be introduced for the donors and recipient’s family. The decision to be an organ donor may seem easy for some: One signs an agreement or undertakes that his heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas and other organs be used after death in a way that helps the recipients lead fuller and healthier lives.

But for other people, the choice is harder. Some fear that a doctor may not work hard to save them because he or she wants their organs for other patients, or that their organs might be removed prematurely (although there is no evidence to support either of these concerns). There may also be a psychological fear of having your own death at a time when you are still relatively healthy.

Organ donation has been one of the greatest milestones in modern science that has been a new ray of hope. Transplantation is the transfer of human tissues or organs from a donor to a recipient and legalized in India since 1994.The number of individuals waiting for organ and tissue transplantation is increasing day by day. Organs such as “part of liver” and “kidney” can be donated by healthy donors. In case of death of an unregistered donor, the care givers are to be consented during times of emotional distress, for permission to retrieve organs for transplant. In case one is not willing to become a donor, but at least spare some time to know the need of organ donation.The organ allocation rule must be transparent and easy to be accessed by donors and recipients both.

All the hospitals and nursing homes, big or small, in public or private sector must be provided with Organ Donation awareness units. A study/ survey may be conducted in the form of questionnaire, on all the patients, care givers and visitors to the patients. For the promotion of this activity, the hospitals and nursing homes may be asked to maintain the records of survey. These hospitals, in turn, may be awarded Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze medals for successful completion of the survey by the government. . This exercise may help in Creating donation-friendly culture and environment in the society and across the country, which may result in promoting good number of organ donors.

Students’ involvement in Organ Donation movement is a nonprofit activity dedicated to promote organ donation awareness and registration. These programmes may be run entirely by students. The NGOs may enroll colleges and schools to establish chapters at their own localities. Chapters hold regular events to educate people about the need for organ donation, dispel misconceptions about the issue, and give them the means and incentives to register as an organ donor.

Thousands of people with end-stage organ disease and organ failures die waiting for donations. The mission of Students for Organ Donation is to promote organ and tissue donation awareness on campus and in the surrounding community. Students for Organ Donation focuses on providing educational development regarding organ and tissue registration by educating individuals about the issue, encouraging individuals to register as organ donors, and also to guide them to pledge their organs.

Campus campaigns in schools and colleges may promote and strengthen the spirit of student involvement. Students in the campus work together with local donation organizations to spread the word about donation among students, faculty, administrators, alumni and also in nearby colonies register as organ, eye, and tissue donors.

Another important area to attract youth of the country is “The Workplace Partnership for Life” as a national initiative that unites the organ donation community in workplaces throughout the nation to spread the word about the importance of donation. Partners for this may include local, regional, and national companies, associations, unions, and academicians, volunteers, philanthropies and community organizations of all kinds. Their shared goal is promoting a “Organ donation campaign” a friendly India Movement, by fostering organ donation education and creating opportunities for individuals to pledge their organs and sign to save lives.