A nurse carries the human organ transplant box. [iStock Photos]

Today, Kenya joins other countries in marking World Organ Donation Day. This is annual observance that aims at raising awareness and encouraging people to donate organs for sake of saving lives. 

The first commemoration was done in 1954 when Ronald Lee Herrick donated a kidney to his identical twin brother and to date the day has been observed annually. 

According to World Health Organization (WHO), millions of people suffer from various chronic conditions that needs to be addressed through donation of body organs. One person can save up to 8 lives from chronic illness when he or she volunteers to donate organs.

According to the Ministry of Health, nine out of 10 Kenyans seek organ transplants daily. There is a worrisome shortage of organs for donation worldwide despite existence of healthy organs that can be donated by people. 

WHO says there various organs crucial for donation and these include, kidney, lungs, intestines, bone marrow, stem cells, pancreas, heart and even cornea of the eye. Liver and kidney donation is common not only in Kenya but also globally.

This is because a donor can survive with one kidney after donation and for the case of liver, according to experts, it can regenerate itself making it possible for these organs to be transplanted. 

There are two forms of organs donation; live donation which are done with donors who are alive and cadaver donation - the procedure carried out after the donor has died. The healthy organs are transplanted for a living person.

Many people are unaware that healthy organs from the dead can be donated to the living ones. Today being a World Organ Donation Day, it is an opportunity for people in Kenya and the rest of the world to volunteer to donate organs and save lives. 

WHO says organ failure was one of the issues that led to many deaths during the Covid-19 crisis and the graph is still rising day in day out. In Kenya, the Health Act of 2017 ushers in a new era in organ donation. Kenyans should not be left behind. Let everyone embrace the spirit and volunteer whenever possible to donate. 

Kenya is one of the countries facing organ scarcity. Since independence, Kenya has not had a robust organ donation and transplant law as well as regulation. Kenyans with chronic diseases who need organ transplant have been facing legal and medical barriers. It’s important to raise awareness and remove these barriers. 

More people should sign up for organ donation. Organ donation is noble just like blood donation.

Eligible citizens should be encouraged to overcome their fears and donate. The incoming government should do more to spread awareness and encourage more people to donate. 

Supportive policies should be implemented advocating for organ donation. More and more, the next government should invest reasonably in healthcare and set more facilities that are capable to oversee donation of organs for the needy patients. 

There is important information potential donors have to know. For instance, all the volunteers are asked by experts to practice healthy lifestyle.

They should stick to a balanced diet, avoid alcohol, drug abuse and smoking.

Donating is saving. Donors should not ask for cash in return or any forms of payment. We have an obligation to make the population as healthy as possible. We must fix out sights on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition, the government should install modern facilities that will ease safe and efficient organs donation. Above all, let us raise awareness about this day and save lives. Donating is saving. 

The writer is a communication and media student