Advantages & Disadvantages About Organ Donation

sheep kidney image by PHOTOFLY from

Organ donation is the process by which the organs of another individual, sometimes deceased and sometimes living, are transplanted into the body of another. The purpose is generally due to the failing organ of the transplant recipient, resulting from a disease or health condition.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to this process. However, organ donation is a personal decision, and determining whether or not you want to donate your organs requires in-depth knowledge about the process.

Advantage: The Ability To Save a Life

This is perhaps the most common reason that people donate an organ. Saving the life of another person is the most selfless act a human can commit, and organ donation makes that possible for many people on a daily basis. This is particularly true of living donors, who take a large medical risk resulting from their willingness to give up a nonvital organ to someone who needs it to live. The organ donation with the highest success rate is the kidney. And there are many more donors available for this kind of transplant, due to the fact that humans can live with just one kidney.

Disadvantage: Potential for Adverse Personal Health Risks

Organ donation, for those who are living, is a major operation. When undergoing such a procedure, you are subject to the same medical risks that accompany any major surgery, with the potential for surgical errors, infection and even death. This is one of the major reasons that many people shun the idea of living organ donation, as they are not willing to put their personal health--and life--on the line.

Advantage: Positive Moral Feelings

Another advantage of organ donation is a positive moral outlook, because you may feel as though you've "done the right thing." Other people may look at you differently, as well, because they understand the magnitude of such a major gift. Because there are so many risks involved, many individuals are simply unable to undergo the procedure; however, those who do generally feel a great sense of moral worth and receive unmitigated gratitude from the person to whom they donated. In fact, lasting relationships are often created between the organ donor and recipient.

Disadvantage: The Donation Might Not Work

Whenever an individual receives a new organ, the chance of rejection is ever-present. The recipient will take antirejection medication for the rest of his life, and this still may not guard against the body's rejection of the new organ. It is seen as a foreign object, and the immune system will do all it can to fight against it. For the donor, this can be disheartening and frustrating, leading many to believe they did it for nothing.