Awareness key to kill bias against organ donation
By The New Indian Express
13th August 2012 12:33 AM
Tamil Nadu’s high ‘conversion’ rate of 80 per cent, which refers to the number of people willing to donate their relatives’ organs after death, is a lesson to the rest of the country where ignorance of the necessary procedures combined with prejudice against disfiguring the body prevents organ transplantation on the requisite scale. As a result, the list of patients, who need organs ranging from eyes to kidneys grows longer. This is not unusual, considering that in the United States, where the willingness to donate is mentioned in the driving licence, the waiting list has grown from 20,000 in 1990 to 1,00,000 in 2010. The reason is that despite the pledge, only about 50 per cent of the American families agree to the donations.
In India, however, there is need for a greater medical and official initiative if only to stop the illegal practice of organ donations where the poor are often induced to sell their body parts, usually kidneys, with the promise of hefty sums. The demand for kidney is among the highest because of the proneness of the organ to various ailments. Yet, only one per cent of the patients receive a healthy kidney. Since the government has enacted the Transplantation of the Human Organs Act, which recognises only the death of the brain as the ultimate termination of life, it will now be possible to extract an organ from a patient even if his or her heart is still beating if a brain death is certified. Public awareness of such procedures is still limited. As a result, many lives are lost because of heart, liver or pancreas failures since transplantations cannot be carried out in time.
The emphasis need not be only one the major organs because surgeries and transplantation can cure an estimated 2.5 million blind in India with a new technique allowing the replacement of a damaged cornea with a donor’s new cornea. What is required is to spread the message that a person’s organs can live on after death in someone else’s body.
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