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Everything you need to know about organ donation

MANILA, Philippines - What is organ and tissue donation?

It is giving a part of yourself so that others may live. About 25 organs and tissues may be donated for transplantation, the most common of which are the kidneys. Others include:

• Major organs: heart, liver, lungs, pancreas

• Tissues: bone and cartilage, bone marrow, corneas, skin

It is a unique opportunity to help save lives by giving a part of yourself so that others may live.

Why is it important to donate an organ or tissue?

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Thousands of Filipinos die every year of organ failure and the lack of organ donors. Many lives can be saved if more Filipinos will donate a part of themselves.

The survival rate of organ transplants is quite encouraging. Data gathered by the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) show that the survival rates for kidney transplants during the first year were registered at 90-95% for living-related donors and about 80-85% for diseased organ donors. These rates are comparable with the survival rates of similar transplants in other parts of the world.

New drugs, improved surgical techniques, and a deep commitment of today’s team of health care professionals help make transplants safer and more successful.

The Human Organ Preservation Effort (HOPE) is a program of the NKTI that coordinates organ donation.

The Human Organ Preservation Effort (HOPE) of the NKTI was created specifically for the retrieval, preservation, and allocation of organs and tissues for clinical transplantation.

The transplant coordinators are on call 24 hours a day to receive and respond to referrals.

Becoming a donor is a personal and emotional decision, but it may help you to:

• Talk with your family. Explain why you’re thinking of becoming a donor. Let them express how they feel. Keep in mind that helping others by donating organs and tissues could be comforting to the family — a symbolic way for you to help others continue to live.

• Ask your physician for information. He/she can answer many of your questions and can suggest other sources of information that may help you to make a decision. Discussions with your physician are most helpful during times of good health.

• Speak with your friends. Some of them may already be carrying organ donor cards. If so, ask them why they made that choice. If not, share what you know about organ donation as well.

• Consult a member of the clergy. Many of the major religious organizations support organ and tissue donation. If you have any specific questions or concerns about your religious organization’s position on this issue, talk with a member of the clergy.

Why is the organ donor card important?

The organ donor card identifies your wish to become an organ donor.

RA 7170, the Organ Donation Act of 199l, legalizes this through the organ donor card.

In case of a brain-dead patient, the following legal requirements must be met before retrieval surgery is undertaken: Declaration of brain death by the patient’s neurologist, neurosurgeon, or attending physician; and consent for donation from the next of kin, in the absence of a donor card.

Organ donation already in driver’s license?

The organ donor card has been incorporated in all drivers’ licenses. It states that the driver has the intention to become an organ and tissue donor in the event of his/her death. This type of license may make it unnecessary to carry a separate organ donor card.

How does one accomplish the organ donor card?

• Print or type your name.

• Indicate whether you want to donate all organs or tissues or only those organs or tissues you have listed.

• Sign your name in the presence of two witnesses (preferably the next of kin). Request them to sign the card.

Who are qualified to become an organ and tissue donor?

Anyone who is 18 years or older may become an organ donor when he or she dies. A minor may become an organ donor with his or her parents’ consent.

If one wishes to donate his/her organ or tissue, he/she should accomplish an organ donor card and inform the spouse or immediate family about his/her decision.

Neither age nor physical history should stop you from signing an organ donor’s card. The transplant team will decide at the time of the donation whether the organs or tissues are useful.

Can a minor become an organ donor?

A minor or a person under age 18 may become a donor only if a parent or legal guardian gives consent.

What’s involved in transplant surgery?

Recipients are chosen based on whose tissue type and blood type are most compatible with those of the donors. A meticulous search is conducted to find the most suitable recipient.

Who pays for a transplant operation?

The donor family does not pay for any transplant operation. It is usually paid for by the recipient. If he is a service patient, part of the expenses is shouldered by the government. The transplant recipient’s health insurance policy may cover the cost of the transplant.

What about donor care?

Donors are assured of the same high quality of medical treatment that non-donors receive. Medical personnel follow strict guidelines before death can be pronounced and the donor’s organs and tissues removed.

Organ and tissue donation saves lives.

You can help make the donor program successful if you:

• Decide to become a donor.

• Encourage others to become donors.

• Complete and carry this organ donor card.

Where do I go for more information?

Call or visit the HOPE office of the NKTI at the 2nd floor, Medical Arts Building, Annex II, Quezon City. Look for or talk to any of the transplant coordinators. You may attend twice a month (1st and 3rd Wednesday, 9-11 a.m.) the Kidney Transplant Support Team pre-transplant orientation at the Hospital Auditorium II, 3rd floor of the Main Building.

The Human Organ Preservation Effort (HOPE) is an outreach program of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, in coordination with REDCOP and the Office of the Press Secretary-Philippine Information Agency (OPS-PIA), dedicated to the retrieval, preservation, and distribution of organs and tissues for clinical transplantation.

For potential deceased organ donation, call these hotlines: NKTI trunkline — 924-3601 to 19; NKTI hotline — 926-8940; HOPE telefax (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) — 924-4673. Also call the HOPE transplant coordinators at cell phone numbers 0906485-4593, 09162582770, 09275980441, and 0916258-9685. E-mail medical@redcop.org.

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