Organ donation and Transplants: Should organ donation be an obligation?

Only three in 1000 deaths are feasible towards organ transplantation; this makes the chances of most patients receiving a matching donor quite slim. An average individual has seven functioning vital organs; they could donate a heart, two lungs, a liver, two kidneys, pancreas, and some other vital organs. But with all these key statistics, Organ donation isn’t commonly practiced in Nigeria. Sometimes people fail to understand the value of this method, or people are not properly educated about the benefits of organ donation.


Whenever someone dies, most family members are not keen on the idea of donating one or more of their loved one’s vital organs. Some people even view it as a kind of superstitious practice or “barbaric way of disturbing the dead.” Also, acknowledging how hard it might be to donate organs, especially when people are still grieving, but we can also view this from a positive stand-point. This practice was created to help save lives. Doctors are mostly trying to keep people alive; vitally, a donor can save up to eight or more people at once. Imagine this as a significant honor of reviving a dead person’s legacy through other people, by saving and keeping them alive.


While some people might be willing to donate their family member’s organs to save other people, others refuse this practice for religious reasons. This has been a major problem with most situations, and unfortunately, it can only be resolved through proper education and sensitization on Organ Donation.


Organ donation and transplantation statistics recorded in 2017 reveal a total of 90,306 kidney transplants. 63.4 percent of them were from deceased donors, while 36.5 percent were from live donors. Over 139, 024 organs are transplanted annually – with the number increasing by 7.25 percent since 2015.


Even with the ever-increasing statistics, there is still a significant shortage of organ donation, especially for people that need them. In the US alone, over 112,000 people are on the national transplant list waiting for possible donors to help save their lives, and more than twenty die every day while waiting for an organ donor.


In response to these shortages, the US government is trying to advocate an “opt-out” system where everyone would be presumed to have consented to donate their organs upon death. The “opt-out” system is meant to replace the “opt-in” process where hospitals assume an individual isn’t a donor unless they or their family member explicitly stated they were donors.


Supporters of the “opt-out” system base their arguments on the potential benefits of this procedure while respecting individual preferences. They believe that making everyone a donor would save countless lives around the world every year.


However, critics against the system have noted how making organ donation obligatory runs counter to Standard Western views of the autonomy over one’s body. Most people saw it as a profound violation of their freedom and free will to harvest their organs without their explicit consent.


Experts suggest that instead of making it an obligation to donate, the government should consider other methods to inspire voluntary organ donation. Israel adopted a system that led to a massive increase in donors, reducing the number of patients on their organ transplant waiting lists.


Organ donation and transplantation is a practice we haven’t fully integrated in Nigeria due to our poor healthcare system and religious beliefs. Most transplant cases are usually done abroad. However, there’s still time to fix things and get people to register as donors and help save lives by adequately educating ourselves on the matter.


Or what do you think?



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