ORGAN DONATION: The Basics
Becoming an organ donor is easy, just call 800-DONOR. Read the following for answers to questions you may have regarding organ donation:
Q. What exactly does being an organ donor means?
Being an organ donor means that you have agreed to give life to someone else by donating your body’s organs when you die (either by natural cause or in a tragic accident).
As an organ donor, you will be giving part of yourself to help someone who needs an organ transplant and, in doing so, you will be giving them the chance to live longer and to lead a full life.
Q. If doctors know that I have agreed to be an organ donor; will they still do everything to save my life?
YES! Your doctor’s first priority and everything possible will always be done to save your life.
Your decision to become an organ donor comes into effect only when all their efforts to save your life have been exhausted and your death is imminent, or has been declared according to specific medical and legal guidelines. Also, your team doctor is completely separate from the organ recovery and transplant team, who are called in at the end.
Q. If I am in a coma and declared brain stem dead how do I know I won’t eventually recover?
Being in a coma and being declared brain stem dead is not the same thing. You can be in a coma for a variety of reasons but you must be considered brain stem dead. In such cases, you cannot be considered for organ donation. Brain stem dead is final and irreversible. Once you are declared brain stem dead, you are legally dead.
Q. What is the charge to my family to donate an organ, or recipients to receive a donated organ?
There is NO CHARGE to either organ donor recipient under the Ministry of Health National Organ Transplant Programme.
Q. How do I know my donated organ will not simply be given or sold to the rich and famous?
IT IS ILLEGAL TO SELL ORGANS in Trinidad & Tobago. Recipients for deceases donor are chosen through a matching systems, which selects and matches people based on compatibility criteria. This includes blood group, organ size, serology status, urgency and waiting time. A person’s wealth cannot sway or impact the eventual decision.
Q. Will organ donation disfigure my body? Will my family be able to have an open casket funeral for me?
Organ donation is similar to surgery. There will be no disfigurement to a donors’ body. Like surgery, all incisions are closed, and you can have an open casket.
Q. Who can became a donor and what are the age limits?
This depends on the organ being donated. Anyone above the age of eighteen (18) years can choose to be a donor. However, people under the age of eighteen (18) years require the consent of a parent or guardian.
Q. How do I make it known that I wish to be an organ donor?
You can join National Organ Transplant Registry by calling 66-DONOR or sign a National Organ Donor Card. Fill the card out and carry it with you all the times!
Most importantly, discuss your wish to be an organ donor with your family members and close friends so that your decision is clear.
(Even though you may have signed an Organ Donor Card, your next of kin must give permission before any of your organs can be retrieved. Remember that, at the time of your death, it may be very difficult for your loved ones to consider organ donation unless you have made your wishes know before.)
Q. Which organ or tissue can I donate?
Initially, kidneys are the only organ to be covered under The Ministry of Health National Organ Transplant Programme since more people require kidney transplants. The tissue that can be donated is the cornea. Eventually, the programme will be extended to include hearts, pancreas, lungs and livers.
All of the world's (and Trinidad and Tobago’s) main religious denominations consider organ donation as the highest oh humanitarian ideals. Giving life to another by sharing part of yourself is consistent with the tenets of most religious and ethical beliefs. If you are still unsure about it, talk to your religious advisor.
Q. How many people in Trinidad and Tobago need Organs Transplant?
Right now, there are approximately 500 nationals who need kidney transplant and the number grows by 40 each year. A very large number people die each year waiting for a kidney transplant.
Similarly, there are hundreds of eye patients in danger of losing some or all of their sight due to corneal problems, which while not life threatening is certainly, life changing.
Q. As a donor, can I determine who receives my organs or tissues?
This is only possible if you are a live donor.
Become an Organ Donor and receive your card today!
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