Understanding the Importance of Being an Organ Donor

organ donation
credit: Karolina Grabowska

This article is a collaborative post.

Organ transplants are considered the best intervention for patients whose organs have been significantly damaged, as well as patients who are undergoing end-stage organ failure due to severe injury or disease. Since the very first organ transplant in 1954, which involved a kidney, the procedure has saved tens of thousands of lives annually around the world. This is in large part due to the courage and generosity of organ donors who have either agreed to make living organ donations or who have consented to donate their organs upon their deaths.

Most living organ donations are made among family members, but organs donated by deceased donors can also go to eligible recipients on an organ donation waitlist. Either way, it’s important to understand what organ donation entails and how to prepare yourself for an organ transplant Singapore patients are waiting for. Here’s a briefer on how organ transplants work, how one becomes an eligible donor, and why you should consider donating your organs to save someone else’s life.

How Do Organ Transplants Work and How Do You Become an Organ Donor?

how to become an organ donor
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Under Singapore’s Human Organ Transplant Act or HOTA, citizens aged 21 and above have the opportunity to donate organs like kidneys, hearts, livers, and corneas either as living donors or as deceased donors. By default, all Singaporean citizens in good mental condition are included under HOTA unless they’ve explicitly opted out of it.

To discourage the illegal practice of organ trading, living organ donors are prohibited from receiving any kind of monetary incentive for their donation—regardless of whether they are donating to someone they know. There should also be no trace of forced compliance in the procedure.

If you agree to become an organ donor upon your death, you must register with the National Organ Transplant Unit (NOTU) and give your explicit consent to make your organs available for donation. You must also specify which among your organs you’re willing to donate. As a living donor, you will be required to take the extra step of securing written authorization of your overseeing hospital’s transplant ethics committee. Doctors will then evaluate your eligibility to donate based on factors like your age, medical history, and the condition of the organ that’s meant to be transplanted.

You will be given the choice to donate to a particular recipient, for example, a family member, or not to specify an intended recipient for your donation. In the case of the latter, you will be matched with someone on a waitlist for whom the transplant is most viable. Once you’ve been ruled as eligible, you will either be given the go signal to donate your organ or added to NOTU’s registry of donors.

3 Reasons to Consider Becoming an Organ Donor

becoming an organ donor
credit: Samuel Regan Asante

Singaporean law recognizes the deeply personal nature of the decision to become an organ donor, and it advocates for the donor’s full knowledge and consent of what the process will entail. Whether you eventually become an organ donor or not is completely up to you. But there are three good reasons to consider doing so:

1. You Can Do Your Part in Saving a Life

First, as either a living or deceased organ donor, you will provide great relief to your beneficiary and their loved ones for granting the former a second lease on life. Thanks to your generosity, your recipient can continue to be the parent, child, partner, or professional that they are for themselves and for others for more years to come.

2. You Can Help Improve the Efficacy of the Medical System

Even with a law like Singapore’s HOTA, organ donation waitlists are always very long. Some patients must wait years to find a suitable match, and this gets in the way of their recovery. But if more people agree to become organ donors, more people can receive the medical interventions that they sorely need. As an organ donor, you will contribute to the efficacy of the country’s medical system and allow it to broaden its service to its constituents.

3. You’ll Have Reason to Have a Healthier Lifestyle

The knowledge that you’ll be an organ donor to someone someday may also motivate you to live a healthier lifestyle for yourself. You’ll be more inspired to exercise, have a healthy diet, and take care of yourself so that your organs remain in good condition—and so that they can be maximized by the person who eventually receives them.

Final Considerations

Regardless of whether you will become a living donor or a deceased donor, you and your loved ones should be sufficiently ready when the time comes. For the latter, it’s understandable to want to put off anything related to your death, including donating your organs. But informing your spouse and family members beforehand will give everyone enough time to accept the decision and honor it after you’ve passed on.

An organ donation will go a long way for a recipient in need, as it can save their lives and prolong their expected lifespan for several years. Consider becoming an organ donor for their sake, and extend the kindness you’ve already practiced in your lifetime for even longer through your organ donation.