Organ donation education could save thousands of lives: Expert

Organ donation education could save thousands of lives: Expert

Ayşe Kelce – ISTANBUL
Organ donation education could save thousands of lives: Expert

Thousands of patients across Turkey die prematurely every year due to lack of public awareness about organ donation, an expert has said, announcing a new campaign to counter misconceptions about the practice.

“Some 10,000 dialysis patients passed away last year, according to the Health Ministry data,” Istanbul Society of Transplantation President Prof. Dr. Murat Tuncer said during an event to promote the organization on July 31.

“There are nearly 70,000 patients on dialysis in Turkey. But there are only 22,000 patients on the country’s kidney transplant waiting list. Thus, some 50,000 patients do not trust the fairness of the system or they have given up hope of finding a match,” he said.

Only one in five transplanted organs are taken from cadavers, according to Tuncer, a ratio indicating the low rate of people agreeing to donate their organs after death.

About 40 medical experts take part in organ transplant operations. Transplants are safe with advanced medical procedures, equipment and medications used during the procedure.

“The people should feel secure about the fairness of the system. The names come from the information system of the Health Ministry to the transplantation centers in order. We conduct the transplantation with those names,” said Tuncer.

Opposing the widespread opinion about the average life span of organ donors, he quoted the results of research on twins in the United States.

“When the average life time of the donors and their twins was compared, it was seen that donors were living longer. Because they were going to hospitals for regular checks every six months or year,” he said.

Transplantation experts announced the public awareness campaign with the hashtag #vesileol, a Turkish expression calling people to contribute to the wellbeing of others.

A 70-year-old Nusel Eriş, also took the floor at the event to share her experiences as an organ donor.

She did not need any psychological assistance ahead of the operation, she said, because she did not feel any hesitation to give one of her kidneys to her son-in-law, who was on dialysis.

The number of kidney transplants in Turkey so far this year is 1,939, according to the Health Ministry records. Only 394 of them were conducted by taking organs from cadavers. Similarly, 678 of the 887 liver transplants in 2019 so far were from live donors.

Meanwhile, 37 hearts, 16 lungs and two small intestines were transplanted from cadavers in 2019, the ministry data show.