Organ donation consent rate rises to 50%

Tehran, June 16, IRNA – The consent rate for organ donation has reached 50 percent in Iran, said the head of the Network for Providing Organs for Transplantation, affiliated with Mashhad Medical University.

Ebrahim Khaleqi made the statement in an interview with the English-language newspaper ˈIran Dailyˈ published Monday, elaborating on the reasons for the family’s refusal to donate organs of their brain-dead relatives.

With the rise in family consent, the country’s need for organs will be removed and more people will be saved, Khaleqi added.

“Kidney and liver are the most wanted organs in terms of the number of people on the organ waiting lists,” he said, adding that almost all organs of a brain-dead person, including heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and tissues, can be transplanted.

Khaleqi said acquainting citizens with the painful life of patients living with a dysfunctional organ will help them look favorably to organ donation.

“One major reason why family members are against organ donation is that they do not believe in the death of their beloved ones because of their lack of knowledge about brain death,” he said.

“Some immediate family members confuse brain death with vegetative state or coma, hence they are hopeful of their patient’s recovery. In fact, these individuals do not accept the specialists’ diagnosis of brain death or believe in miracle cures more than in medical progress.”

Khaleqi explained that although coma or vegetative state can gradually lead to brain death, these two states are different from brain death.

“While there is a chance of recovery from coma or vegetative state, there is no chance of recovery for people declared brain dead,” he said.

“In a vegetative state, patients have suffered severe brain damage that leaves them in a state of semi-consciousness. They are not truly conscious or aware in this condition. After four weeks in this state, the patient’s condition is called a persistent vegetative state. After one year like this, the patient is said to be in a permanent vegetative state.”

Khaleqi said patients who are in coma or vegetative state are still alive and their organs will never be removed for transplantation, even if their family members give their consent.

Brain death protocol

Khaleqi described Iranian brain death protocol as one of the most reliable ones in the world, which identifies brain death with utmost accuracy.

Describing how the Iranian protocol works, Khaleqi said first, a physician caring for the patient issues a death certificate, then four specialists including a neurologist, neurosurgeon, internist and an anesthesiology expert must examine the patient to confirm the complete and irreversible absence of her/his brain function.

“Finally, the head of regional forensic organization should approve her/his death, as the representative of prosecutor,” he said.

Khaleqi said another reason that prevents the consent of families is that they think the body of their beloved one must be buried intact with all its organs.

“Such a way of thinking is losing color, though,” he said.

Families of many brain-dead persons say that knowing their loved one has saved other lives helps them cope with their death.

Between 6,000 and 10,000 Iranians are recognized as brain dead annually in Iran and over 20,000 others are on the waiting lists of organ donations.



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