Kidney Donation – Life on a Waiting List
Health & Fitness

Kidney Donation – Life on a Waiting List

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While death takes you away, your organs can stay and save another life.

The greatest achievement of a human being is to save someone’s life. You can do this in many ways. Organ donation is one of the ways either after death or as a living. A lot of people and relatives of the deceased person are donating eye, lung, heart, blood, cells, kidney, etc. This kind of donation is one of the biggest donations when you are donating your organ to save someone’s life.

Donation is a gift where the owner of a thing voluntarily transfers the title and possession of the same from himself to another person, without any consideration. It is also very important that the charity has been accepted by others happily.

Life on a waiting list: Yes, it is true. Almost 120,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant in the U.S. and almost 170,000 patients in India waiting for the same; only 4000 to 5000 donors’ available and the average waiting time for a kidney transplant is 3 to 5 years. Only 1 out of 30 people who need a kidney receives one. 90% of people on the waiting list die without getting an organ.

If we see globally, 10% of the population worldwide is affected by Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), and millions die each year because they do not have access to affordable treatment. Over 2 million people worldwide currently receive treatment with dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive. Chronic kidney disease is a worldwide health crisis. According to the World Health Organization, in 2005, there were approximately 58 million deaths worldwide, with 35 million attributed to chronic disease.

What are Kidneys and their importance in our body?

The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs, present in all vertebrates. They are located just below the rib cage at the back of the abdominal cavity, one on each side of your spine. The right kidney is generally slightly smaller and lower than the left, to make space for the liver. Each kidney weighs 125–170 grams in males and 115–155 grams in females.

Healthy kidneys filter about a half cup of blood every minute, removing wastes and extra water to make urine. The urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through two thin tubes of muscle called ureters, one on each side of your bladder which stores urine. Our kidneys, ureters, and bladder are part of our urinary tract.

Kidneys remove wastes and extra fluid from our bodies. Kidneys also remove acid that is produced by the cells of our body and maintain a healthy balance of water, salts, and minerals—such as sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium in our blood. Without this balance, nerves, muscles, and other tissues in our body may not work normally. Kidneys also make hormones that help to control blood pressure, to make red blood cells and to keep our bones strong and healthy.

What is kidney failure?

Kidneys filter our blood and remove toxins from our body. Kidneys send toxins to our bladder, which our body removes during urination. Because of all of the vital functions the kidneys perform and the toxins they encounter, the kidneys are susceptible to various problems. Kidney failure occurs when our kidneys lose the ability to sufficiently filter waste from our blood. Our body becomes overloaded with toxins if our kidneys can’t do their regular job. This can lead to kidney failure, which can be life-threatening if left untreated. Kidney failure is the last (most severe) stage of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). This is why kidney failure is also called End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) which is treated by dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Diabetes is the most common cause of ESRD, high blood pressure is the second most common cause of ESRD.

What are the symptoms of kidney failure?

  • Have swelling usually in your legs, feet, or ankles
  • Get headaches
  • Feel itchy
  • Feel tired during the day and have sleep problems at night
  • Feel sick to your stomach, lose your sense of taste, not feel hungry, or lose weight
  • Too much urine (pee) or not enough urine
  • Have muscle cramps, weakness, or numbness
  • Have pain, stiffness, or fluid in your joints
  • Feel confused, have trouble focusing, or have memory problems

Kidney failure treatment

There are several treatments for kidney failure. The type of treatment you need will depend on the reason for your kidney failure.

Dialysis: Dialysis filters and purifies the blood using a machine. The machine performs the function of the kidneys. You may need to follow a low-potassium, low-salt diet along with dialysis. Dialysis doesn’t cure kidney failure, but it can extend your life if you go to regularly scheduled treatments.

Kidney transplant: Another treatment option is a kidney transplant. A transplanted kidney can work normally, and dialysis is no longer needed. There’s usually a long wait to receive a donor kidney that’s compatible with your body. If you have a living donor the process may go more quickly.

Challenges in India

There is a huge shortage of organs that are needed for transplants due to lots of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of awareness in India. Not everybody knows the benefits of organ donation.

One more challenge is the lengthy paperwork and some government rules and regulation. According to existing rules, if the potential donor is not related to the person who needs the organ, the transplant needs to be approved by a state-level committee or by a hospital committee that includes government officials.

The next challenge is that relatives are hesitant and unwilling to donate the organs of their loved ones who have been declared brain dead. Normally the transplant coordinator will approach the relatives with information about organ donation and explain that even in their time of loss, they can help another person to live. It is tough for the relatives at this point to come to a decision especially if they are not familiar with the concept of organ donation. This is the main reason why the public needs to know about organ donation before they are suddenly faced with the possibility at some point in their lives. Even if the family is ready to donate organs, superstitions and misconceptions become impediments.

Another problem is that there are limited facility and few surgeons and hospitals equipped for transplants. Ventilators for preserving the organs of a brain dead person and intensive-care unit personnel trained to manage such situations are prerequisites for a transplant.

Conclusion

If you have two healthy kidneys, you may be able to donate one of your kidneys to enhance or save someone else’s life. Both you and the recipient of your kidney (the person who got your kidney) can live with just one healthy kidney.

According to a report of the International Society of Nephrology; about 27,000 related and unrelated Living Kidney Donor (LKD) transplants occur worldwide every year. 6,435 take place in the US and 1,768 in Brazil and India figuring around 3,200 transplants.

It is very sad that the number of transplants per year to be in the range of 3,000-3,500, with barely 5% coming from the brain-dead. The annual requirement is about 150,000.

Here is the statistic of organ donation per million:

  • Spain has 35 organ donors
  • Britain has 27 donors
  • The US has 26 donors
  • Canada has 14 donors
  • Australia has 11 donors
  • India’s count of organ donors stands at 0.16 per million populations

If we encourage people for organ donating, there will not be any person in this world who will die due to kidney failure or due to lack of an organ. The waiting list of life will be reduced and we can see happy people around us.

Remember, while death takes you away, your organs can stay and save another life.

You can read about Blood Donation & It’s Importance also.

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