You can also save lives: everything you need to know to become an organ donor

The donation of organs is an altruistic gesture of which in Spain we are especially proud: every year, our country leads the donation of organs and more and more people are encouraged to become a donor. If you’re thinking about it, think of it as a decision that helps save many lives . We explain everything you need to know to decide.

What is organs donation

As we say, organ donation is an altruistic gesture by which, when a person dies, those organs are removed that are not damaged and work perfectly and are transplanted to another person who due to an illness or accident needs to receive a new organ .

Each person can donate a multitude of organs : kidneys, liver, heart, pancreas or lungs, as well as many other tissues of the body, such as bones, corneas and heart valves.

Due to the shortage of organs for donations, we usually try to make the most of the generosity of each donor. However, each person can decide in life which organs to donate and which ones can not.

Who can donate and how to become a donor

In Spain, according to the Transplant Law, we are all considered potential organ donors if during our life we ​​have not expressed the contrary. For this reason, the families of a deceased person are always consulted and their consent is requested , under the premise that these would not contradict the decision of their relative.

Despite our desire to donate, in order for this to happen, death must occur in an ICU of a hospital

The easiest way to make sure that our organs will be donated is to express it clearly to our relatives . There is also a donor card , a document that has no legal value but that serves as a written testimony of our will after our death.

That yes, despite our desire to donate, so that this is fulfilled the death must occur in an Intensive Care Unit of a hospital, since only there medical professionals can ensure compliance with all protocols necessary for the donation and the transplant are fulfilled.

What is live donation?

The human body can function properly with only one kidney , and that is why some people decide to donate one of their two healthy kidneys so that another person can receive it and thus survive or improve their quality of life. In Spain, 85% of kidney transplants come from a deceased donor, and 15% from a living donor .

It can happen among family members, couples, close friends or strangers . Sometimes, for reasons of compatibility, cross-donations are scheduled, in which relatives of two patients donate an organ, each for the family member of the other.

These donations have been shown to have some advantages over donations of deceased people, such as greater survival and fewer complications , among other reasons because recipients are usually younger and have fewer associated complications, and also because surgery can be scheduled at the time in which they are in better conditions, unlike the donations of deceased people, which occur when the donor dies.

How are the organs we donate allocated?

Legislation in Spain ensures that donations are fully altruistic: the person who donates and their family do not receive any compensation in return , more than the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped save the life of another person. It is also anonymous , that is, the family that donates the organs of a deceased person does not know who receives them.

The person who donates and their family do not receive any compensation in return, other than the satisfaction of knowing they have helped save someone else’s life.

To assign them, two main criteria are used: territorial and clinical . The first serve to ensure that the organs collected in an area are allocated within that same area, or other nearby, and so spend the shortest possible time enters the extraction and transplantation, to avoid spoiling or more complications.

The clinical criteria, for their part, evaluate the compatibility between donor and recipient, as well as the severity of the patient , so that the organs go to those patients who need them most and who can best receive them.

There is a final clinical criterion that is above the territorial ones, known as “urgency 0” , which means that this patient has absolute priority at the national level.

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