Life and death – simple in appearance, these two words carry much more meaning than they seem to look like. It is a challenge to this day to find a universal definition of the two words. Depending on your culture, education, and beliefs, the meaning of life and death can vary in so many different ways that it would be impossible to encompass all of them into one general definition. Lesley Sharp’s ethnography Strange Harvest helps us understand how life and death can have different cultural meanings across various groups. Strange Harvest examines the complicated implications of life and death through the world of organ transfer, and its effect on the people involved.
Organ Donation In India
In 1994, the Government of India passed the Transplantation of Human Organs Act that legalized the concept of brain death and, for the first time, facilitated organ procurement from heart beating, brain dead donors. However, this concept has not caught on well in India for want of public education and awareness. This in turn is perpetuating the commercial sale of human organs due to the widening gap between the demand and supply. Thousands of lives are lost in India annually from heart and liver failure since transplantation of unpaired organs like heart, liver and pancreas is either difficult or impossible from living donors. This is only possible on a large scale if these organs are available from cadaver donors.
In the United States, in 2004, there were over 14,000 organ donors – an increase of 695 donors (7%) over 2003. During this time the number of cadaver donors grew by 11% to 7,152, the largest annual increase in deceased donors in the last 10 years. In 2005, the number of kidneys transplanted from cadavers was 9,914, while the number of patients who received transplants from living donors was 6,563.
It is the irreversible and permanent cessation of all brain functions. Brain can no longer send messages to the body to perform vital functions like breathing, sensation, obeying commands etc. Such persons are kept on artificial support (ventilation) to maintain oxygenation of organs so that the organs are in healthy condition until they are removed. Most cases of brain death are the end result of head injuries, brain tumours patients from Intensive care units. Organs of such patients can be transplanted in organ failure patients to provide them a new lease of life.