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You may have heard of organ donation now and then, but do you really know what it means? Many of us have preconceived notions about what it means to donate organs and tissues. For example, a lot of people think that whenever and however they die, their organs can be donated. That is not true. Read on to get all the details.

Organ Donation is the process of Retrieving or Procuring an organ from a live or deceased person known as a DONOR. The process of recovering organs is called HARVESTING. This organ is transplanted into the RECEPIENT who is in need of that organ.

There are two types of organ donation – Live Donation & Deceased or Cadaver Donation.

Live Donation: This is organ donation by a healthy and living person. This can only be done in the case of liver, kidney and pancreas. A person during his/her life can donate one kidney and be capable for maintaining the body functions, a portion of pancreas (half of the pancreas is adequate for sustaining pancreatic functions) and a part of the liver (the donated segment of liver will regenerate after a period of time).

Deceased / Cadaver Donation: This is organ donation by a person ONLY when he/she has been declared "brain dead" by a team of authorised doctors at a hospital. Brain death is due to cessation of function of the brain stem. In this case the authorised doctors carry out a series of legally mandated procedure to declare a person brain dead, after which the doctor treating the patient will explain to the family about the "brain stem" death and counsel them to donate the medically fit organs and tissues.

You can be rest assured that even if you are carrying a Donor Card, you will still get the best possible treatment available to save your life. Carrying a Donor Card does not make you a guinea pig. It makes you a HERO!!!

Organ / Tissue donation cannot take place without the mandatory consent of the immediate family members and/or close relatives. This consent is mandatory by law from the person who is lawfully in possession of the dead body, would normally be a parent, spouse, son/daughter or brother/sister.

Even though if you carry a donor card, your immediate family members and close relatives will be asked for donation of organs and tissues. The consent is mandatory from the person lawfully in possession of the dead body, before donation can be carried out. This is usually done by a parent, spouse, son/daughter or brother/sister. By signing a consent form the family says that they do not have any objection to the removal of organs from the body of their loved one. It is a legal document. This form is kept with the hospital. If the family members refuse, then organ donation will not take place.


The organs that can be donated are:

  • Liver

  • Kidney

  • Pancreas

  • Heart

  • Lungs

  • Intestine.

The tissues that can be donated are:

  • Cornea

  • Bone

  • Skin

  • Heart Valve

  • Blood vessels

  • Nerves and Tendons etc.


Age limit for Organ Donation varies, depending upon whether it is living donation or cadaver donation; for example in living donation, person should be above 18 year of age, and for most of the organs deciding factor is the person's physical condition and not the age. Specialist healthcare professionals decide which organs are suitable case to case.

Having a medical condition does not necessarily prevent a person from becoming an organ or tissue donor. The decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is made by a healthcare professional, taking into account your medical history.

Organs and tissue from people in their 70s and 80s have been transplanted successfully all over the world. In the case of tissues and eyes, age usually does not matter.

A deceased donor can generally donate the Organs & Tissues with the age limit of:

Kidneys & Liver: up-to 70 years

Heart & Lungs: up-to 50 years

Pancreas, Intestine: up-to 60-65 years

Corneas, skin: up-to 100 years
Heart valves: up-to 50 years 
Bone: up-to 70 years

In very rare cases, the organs of donors with HIV or Hepatitis-C have been used to help others with the same conditions. This is only ever carried out when both parties have the condition. All donors have rigorous checks to guard against infection.

How soon should you donate the organs and tissues?

Healthy organs should be transplanted as soon as possible. Different organs can be transplanted within different time frame as mentioned below:


Heart: 4-6 Hours      Lungs: 4-8 Hours      Intestine: 6-10 Hours      Liver: 12-15 Hours      Pancreas: 12-24 Hours      Kidneys: 24-48 Hours

In case of brain stem or a natural death or death due to any other reason in a Hospital, please contact the Transplant Coordinator or Doctors and inform them of your decision. In case of death at home or at any other location, please contact the nearest Hospital authorised for Transplantations. You can see the list here

Source: NOTTO. Please visit their website for more detailed FAQs

What do I tell my family?

Sit down with your family and explain the entire process of organ / tissue donation. Whom does it benefit? How it works? Explain to them that as a parting gift to this world you want to give a gift to someone who will appreciate it lifelong... who will get a second chance at life because of the gift... whose families will cry tears of joy and forever bless you and the entire family for the gift. Give them the details of your Donor Pledge and ask them to ensure that your wishes are carried out when you are no more. 

The death of a family member is extremely tough on the family. If they are aware of the deceased being an organ/tissue pledger and have accepted his/her wishes while he/she was alive, then it becomes much easier for them to give their consent for the organ / tissue donation. It is also ideal to inform someone else other than immediate family like a close friend or a relative or your family physician. They can co-ordinate with the correct authorities.

Please read more about the whole process, the THO Act, FAQs, etc. - HELPFUL LINKS

Hospitals and Centres approved for transplants and harvesting - APPROVED HOSPITALS

A single person can donate organs to eight (8) people and tissues to several more, thereby saving their lives.

If this is not good enough a reason to pledge, then what is??

In short there is no apparent reason not to pledge, but there are lakhs of reasons to do so!

So by all means do PLEDGE!!!

Some of the organs and tissues which can be transplanted.


Large Intestine


Small Intestine




Blood Vessel





The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, it’s about making a difference...
How beautiful would it be if you gave someone a new life after you have lived yours...

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