"Organ Donation and Transplantation program"
ARE WE THE MISSING PIECE?
By: Dinah Len B. Pleños, RN
Organ donation is a topic which contains many conflicting views. To some, they see it as a genuine way of saving others’ lives. Organs that can be given after death are the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas and tissues (corneas, skin, veins, heart valves and bones). But kidneys are the most common organ being donated in our country since it has the most increasing number of damaged body part. Vital organs after cardiac death may become unusable for transplantation since the heart stops beating due to poor perfusion but their tissues can still be donated within the first 24 hours of death.
For someone to become a deceased donor, he or she has to die in very specific circumstances. Most often, a patient comes to a hospital because of illness or accident, such as a severe head trauma, a brain aneurysm or stroke. The patient is put on artificial or mechanical support, which keeps blood with oxygen flowing to the organs. The medical team does everything possible to save the patient's life. Even though the medical team members do everything they can to save the patient's life, sometimes the injuries are too severe and the patient dies. If the patient is dead and is not responding, physicians will perform a series of tests to determine if brain death has occurred. A patient who is brain dead has no brain activity and cannot breathe on his or her own. Brain death is death and it is irreversible. Someone who is brain dead cannot recover. Only after brain death has been confirmed and the time of death noted, organ donation can become possible.
The hospital notifies the local Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) such as Davao Regional Medical Center’s Human Effort Retrieval Organization (HERO) of every patient that has died or is nearing death. This is in keeping with the Department of Health (DOH) regulations. The referring hospital gives the OPO information about the deceased patient to confirm whether he or she has the potential to be a donor. If the person could be a candidate for donation, a representative from the OPO travels immediately to the hospital. The OPO representative searches to see if the deceased is registered as a donor based on Philippine Network of Organ Sharing (PhilNOS) registry. If so, that will serve as legal consent for donation. If the deceased has not registered, and there was no other legal consent for donation, such as a notation on the driver's license, the OPO will ask the next of kin for authorization.
After authorization, a medical evaluation takes place, including obtaining the deceased's complete medical and social history from the family. If the deceased person's evaluation allows donation, the OPO contacts the PHILNOS. The PHILNOS operates the national database of all patients in the Philippines waiting for a transplant. The OPO enters information about the deceased donor into the computer system and the search begins. The computer system generates a list of patients who match the donor (by organ). Each available organ is offered to the transplant team of the best-matched patient. The transplant surgeon determines whether the organ is medically suitable for that patient or may refuse the organ—for example, if the patient is too sick to be transplanted or cannot be reached in time. Most organs go to patients in the area where the organs were recovered. The others are shared with patients in other regions of the country. While the search for matching recipients is under way, the deceased donor's organs are maintained on artificial support. Machines keep blood containing oxygen flowing to the organs. The condition of each organ is carefully monitored by the hospital medical staff and the OPO procurement transplant coordinator.
Then the surgical team removes the organs and tissues from the donor's body in an operating room. Organs remain healthy only for a short period after removal from the donor, so minutes count. The OPO representative arranges the transportation of the organs to the hospitals of the intended recipients. Transportation depends on the distance involved, and can include ambulances, helicopters, and commercial airplanes. The transplant operation takes place after the transport team arrives at the hospital with the new organ. The transplant recipient is typically waiting at the hospital and may already be in the operating room awaiting the arrival of the lifesaving organ.
There are some techniques that can be used to increase the number of donation, one of which is by educating the public. If the life threatening and the critical shortage of organs are fully understood by the people, organ donation would more likely be on the rise. An effort is needed not only in our country but throughout the world to make people aware of the benefits this process contains
Organ donation is one way for anyone to help save lives of others. It is something that does not take a lot of effort. If you or you knew someone who wish to be an organ donor simple step are needed to be done: first, sign an organ donor card, have a relative sign the card, keep the card in your wallet, make your wishes known to your family members, and discuss your views with your physician. In these ways, it ensures that your wishes to become an organ donor will be met.
In response to these challenges, the Department of Health’s Philippine Network of Organ Sharing and the Davao Regional Medical Center’s Human Effort Retrieval Organization (HERO) has conducted the Organ Donation and Transplantation Orientation on March 1, 2017 at Davao Regional Medical Center. This has been participated by various hospitals, government and private institutions located in Tagum City.
Organ donors are our modern-day heroes and organ donation is the best way to honor one’s life legacy. Your legacy could be someone’s missing piece. Come and join us in saving lives.