World Organ Donation Day 2023: Know the 5 major organs that can be donated

You might think that as a donor, all your body parts can be donated after death. But not all organs can be donated. On World Organ Donation Day 2023, let's find out the list of organs you can donate.
World Organ Donation Day
Increase awareness about organ donation for World Organ Donation Day. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 13 Aug 2023, 08:59 am IST
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Organ donation can save or improve lives of people in need. Sometimes, an illness related to organ failure is so serious that organ transplantation becomes the only hope for them to lead a healthy life. Some people wish to become donors, but they have a few doubts like what all organs can they donate. On World Organ Donation Day, observed annually on August 13, we will tell you which all organs can and cannot be donated.

What organs can be donated?

Organ transplantation saves lives by replacing damaged or failing organs with healthy ones, says Dr Yasir Rizvi, Associate director and senior consultant – Nephrology and Kidney Transplant at Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, New Delhi.

Not all organs can be donated. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

There are five major organs that can be donated:

• Heart, which pumps blood to sustain life.
• Lungs, which facilitate breathing.
• Liver, which processes toxins.
• Kidneys, which filter waste.
• Pancreas, which regulates blood sugar.

While donating these organs after death can provide a second chance at life for people with organ failure, there are some body parts that are challenging to donate. Their complexity or the nature of their functions can make it difficult to donate.

For instance, the brain cannot be donated because it houses a person’s consciousness and identity, the expert tells Health Shots. Also, certain organs like full eye, reproductive organs and whole bone are often excluded from donation due to medical, ethical or practical reasons.

Hardest organ to transplant

After organ donation, comes transplantation. The hardest organ to transplant is generally considered to be the heart. The procedure is complex due to the heart’s intricate structure, its constant and critical role in pumping blood, and the potential for rejection by the recipient’s immune system, explains Dr Rizvi. The short window of time for transplanting a heart after removal and the need for a suitable donor match further contribute to the difficulty of heart transplantation.

Organ donation can save many lives. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Medical reasons for not becoming a donor

Not everyone can be an organ donor, and there are medical reasons behind it. If you have any of the following conditions, becoming an organ donor may not be a good idea:

• Having certain infections
• Active cancer
• Severe heart disease
• Conditions affecting the organs to be donated.

Some conditions might affect the safety of the donor or the viability of the donated organs for transplantation, says Dr Partha Karmakar, Consultant, Nephrology and Renal Transplant at Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Howrah, Kolkata.

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As for age, there isn’t a strict age limit for organ donors. But yes, organs are evaluated for suitability based on the donor’s medical history and the organ’s condition. However, older donors might have organs with reduced functionality, making them less suitable for organ transplantation, says the expert.

Things to keep in mind before becoming an organ donor

It’s good to be an organ donor, but there are a few things you need to do before signing on the dotted line.

• Before becoming a donor, consider informing your family about your decision and documenting it legally.
• Understanding the donation process, potential risks and recovery time are crucial, especially if you want to donate when you are alive.
• Keep your medical records updated and inform your doctors about your donor status.
• Lead a healthy lifestyle to ensure the viability of your organs for donation.

Consultations with medical professionals can be really helpful as they can assess your eligibility and guide you through the process.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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