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Organ donation: India still has miles to go

Friday, 14 September 2012 - 1:31pm IST | Place: Pune | Agency: dna

Poor awareness, high cost of treatment and lack of proper infrastructure has kept the fate of many hanging in the balance. Speak Up brings you experts’ views...

Even as the Centre passed the Transplantation of Human Organs Act (THO) in 1994 paving the way for cadaveric donations, poor awareness, high cost of treatment and lack of proper infrastructure has kept the fate of many hanging in the balance. Speak Up brings you experts’ views...

Poor awareness is the biggest roadblock here
The Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee, an organ procurement organisation in Maharashtra, looks after only cadaver organ transplants (organ donation from brain dead donors). The main problem in cases of cadaver donations is lack of public awareness. A brain dead person can theoretically donate as many as six organs and save lives of many patients.

As of now, public awareness is the biggest roadblock in our country regarding cadaver organ donation. Generally, what happens is that the relatives of brain dead patients refuse to donate their organs. In our country the law states that even if a person pledges to donate her/his organs or body after s/he is dead, the final word is with the next of kin.

In Pune, only kidney transplant is carried out because liver and heart transplants are complicated and need complex infrastructure. Plans are afoot to set up liver transplant infrastructure at Ruby Hall and KEM hospitals in Pune.
—Dr Farrokh Wadia, Nephrologist KEM Hospital & honorary trustee, ZTCC, Pune

Patient’s kin have the final say in cadaver donation
Most of the organ donations in India is live related organ transplant, wherein the donor and recipient are of the same blood group. A person with ‘O’ blood group is a universal donor, while ‘AB’ is a universal recipient. Cadaveric organ transplants rarely take place because though there are brain dead patients, the relatives who have the final say in the matter, refuse to donate the organ. In India, the next of kin of the brain dead person being ready for organ donation is a rarity.

Awareness is lacking among public as well as doctors. Many doctors do not have a clear conception of brain dead or cadaveric organ donation. It is necessary that society accepts organ donation as a noble gesture. It is a voluntary gesture, wherein no commercial trade of organs is involved.
—Dr Shriniwas Ambike, Nephrologist

People think organ donation will kill patient
In Pune, there are more than 200 patients on the waiting list who need cadaveric kidney transplant. The last cadaveric transplant we did in the city was in February, 2012. The main reason behind so many hurdles in finding donors for organ transplant is that there is no awareness among people. The general thinking is that organ donation will kill the patient, whereas that is not the case.

The whole procedure of finding a donor and getting the transplant done is a long one. There are two types of organ donors, live and cadaver (brain dead person), which is further bifurcated into donors being related and unrelated. Nearest family members, parents, spouse and siblings come under related donors and the rest come under unrelated donors.

State additional chief secretary (public health) TC Benjamin has promised some funding to create awareness about organ donations.
—Vrinda Pusalkar, Transplant Coordinator, Jehangir Hospital

Centre must step in to make it affordable
For a patient who requires a transplant, organ donation is a life saving procedure, but very little is being done in our country on this front.

Our organisation had suggested the government that if a person has pledged to donate his organs after death, the copy of the pledge must be kept with one central body and the law should make it mandatory for the relatives to abide by the dead person’s will. One aspect of organ transplant is that it is very expensive and the financially weak cannot afford it. The government must step in and set up facilities for organ transplant at government-run hospitals, so that it becomes cheaper for the poor.
—Dr Abhijit Vaidya, Founder-President, Arogya Sena (NGO)

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