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Myths and facts about the organ donation process.

Organ Donation is the ultimate act of altruism, the greatest expression of humanity and a testimony of love for the gift of life.

How is “transplantation” defined?
The transplantation of organs and tissues is a therapeutic practice that allows the restoration of some body functions that have been partially or completely lost in one point and in some cases have been substituted partially by a type of mechanical method such as hemodialysis. More specifically, it is a surgical procedure in which healthy organs, tissues or cells are transferred from a deceased or living donor to a chronically ill patient to restore the function of a deficient organ.

Where is transplantation based on? What makes it feasible?
What makes transplantation and the salvation of human lives possible is the OVERALL act of altruism, sensitivity and social offer – the ORGAN DONATION! The transplantation system is founded on the principles of organ donation. Without donation, transplants could NOT exist.

Is there a difference between a living organ donor and a deceased one?
A living organ donor makes the donation alive declaring that after his death he would like to help his fellow human beings by offering his organs to be transplanted. It is mandatory that the organ donor is an adult. On the other hand, a deceased organ donor is the one who gives an organ for the intent of transplantation, or a living related donor who donors his organ or tissue to be transplanted to his or her relative, according to the applicable law (Hellenic Transplant Organization - EOM).

Can a patient with serious injury or in a coma become an organ donor?
No, it is NECESSARY and MANDATORY that a death certification – brain death to be issued to start the transplantation process. No one can be an organ donor who is not deceased no matter how serious his clinical condition is, or how little hope of survival he has.

What is brain death?
It is the state of irreversible brain damage, with the loss of all functions of the brain, including the brainstem, the section of the brain that contains vital function control centers such as breathing and blood pressure, memory, thought and perception. Brain stem injury causes total brain dysfunction and it is universally accepted that irreparable damage to the brain stem is a necessary and necessary condition for the whole brain to be considered dead.

How does the organ donation process work?
When the doctor declares a person dead, ONLY THEN, if he is suitable to become an organ and / or tissue donor his family is informed about the likelihood of donation (to express their consent or denial if the potential donor had not expressed a preference for organ donation. With the consent of the relatives, the doctor informs Hellenic Transplant Organization (EOM) about the death. Only under these circumstances and if EOM is notified in writing, only then the donation process is initiated by the donor to the recipients, which is coordinated solely by EOM. EOM, as a central coordination body invites surgical teams from the competent transplant centers to go to the donor's hospital to receive the organs.

How can organs and tissues be removed?
Removal of organs and tissues is a surgery that does not differ in anything from any other surgical procedure. The donor's body is always treated with dignity and respect. The external appearance of the donor is not altered, nor it affects the burial processes.

If I become a donor, can my relatives refuse to donate my organs?
A prerequisite for initiating the organ donation process, except for the certification of the brain death, is the consent of the first – degree relatives of the deceased, whether he has a donor card. Consent is sought for reasons that are primarily moral.

What is the current state of transplants in Greece?
Greece has the worst performance in the field of transplantation. In 2016 the number of the deceased donors reached 51, with 102 solid organ transplants from cadaver donors and 49 from living organ donors, which accounts for just 3.5 donors per million population. Similarly, in Europe, the average European number of donors reaches 20 per million population, while there are countries with higher parentage, for example 35 donors per million population and therefore thousands of transplants are carried out.

But why are organ donation rates so low in Greece?
There are two main factors involved in low organ donation rates. First of all, the inadequate briefing of the public about the process but also the suspicion of the families of potential donors, including the fear of organ trafficking.

This article is not intended to persuade anyone to become an organ donor. Its purpose is to motivate and inform everyone. As soon as we learn about the process, and see what it really entails, then we will have the opportunity to make a substantiated decision.

Mesogeios Dialysis Centers Group Scientific Team

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