Selena Gomez turned 26 on Sunday. But she had already received perhaps the greatest gift anyone could ever receive—a part of someone.
In September 2017, Gomez announced through her Instagram account that she had a kidney transplant to treat her kidney failure due to lupus nephritis, an incurable disease. Her kidney donor was none other than her best friend, Francia Raisa.
After the news of her transplant broke, the subject of organ donation was again put on the spotlight; more people have become aware of its role in saving lives.
Organ transplantation is the best treatment option for patients with organ failure. In the Philippines, the most commonly transplanted organ is the kidney. According to data from the Philippine Renal Disease Registry, lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension remain the top causes of kidney failure, particularly among the middle-aged population.
Theoretically speaking, the rising incidence rate of kidney failure at 120 per million population creates a wide gap between demand and supply. Since diabetes and hypertension tend to run among family members, this fact discourages family members to donate their kidneys. To increase awareness, enhancing a deceased organ donor program is the way to go in addressing the scarcity of organ donors.
Makati Medical Center breaks down what we should know about deceased organ donation and why it’s something that we should consider.
“In essence, deceased organ donation is a legacy of voluntarily giving your healthy organs and tissues to be transplanted to another person with organ failure at the time of your death,” explains Dr. Arlene Lamban of MakatiMed’s section of Nephrology.
She adds, “It could be any of the organs such as kidneys, heart, liver, pancreas, intestines, and lungs; portions of the skin; bone and bone marrow; or even the cornea.”
A deceased donor, for instance, can save two patients from a lifetime of dialysis. However, deceased organ donation is often misunderstood. Correct information dissemination is vital.
According to MakatiMed’s medical professionals, the donated organs are viable organs from a brain-dead (declared clinically and legally dead) donor. This means that there is no longer any brain activity and cannot be resuscitated from loss of function in the heart and lungs.
Health providers now see it as their responsibility to educate people, correct the myths, and dispel urban legend about organ donation.
“We want to dispel the superstitions and misconceptions that make it hard for people to say ‘yes’ to organ donation and for families to allow their deceased family member to be donors,” says Dr. Jose Dante Dator, director of professional services. “In fact, it is allowed by most religious groups and is not costly.”
Information dissemination through advocacy programs is the first step, while encouragement should be the “snowball factor” to initiate and maintain the Deceased Organ Donation Program.
Anyone—apart from those with cancer, HIV, and other infectious conditions—can be a donor. A donor card or a simple instruction in your driver’s license and other government-issued IDs should serve as proof of your willingness to be an organ donor.
Don’t forget to let your family know of your wishes to share a vital part of yourself after your death so that others may live. Remember that when that unfortunate time comes, a fortunate call happens for a patient who is on the waiting list for organ transplantation.