It has been estimated that every year approximately two lakh people wait for organ donors across India but only about 3,000 actually receive one.
Sadly, there has not been any dramatic change in the figures in the last three years. According to the Indian Society of Organ Transplant, since 2010 only 945 kidney transplantations have taken place and not a single liver transplant. Bangalore recorded the highest count with 170 kidney transplants.
Experts say very little or no awareness about the donation process is the biggest hurdle at the moment with almost 90 per cent of them in the waiting list dying without getting an organ.
Dr Sudarshan Ballal, Medical Director and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board, Manipal Health Enterprises Bangalore says, “The process of organ transplantation has become extremely transparent and the legalities of living and cadaver organ donation is easier. As far as living organ donations are concerned, each state has an appropriate authority that approves hospitals and doctors for transplantation. This committee inspects the hospitals and permits them to carry out specific organ transplantation. This permission is renewed after every five years.”
Dr Ballal says for cadaver donations; each state has a semi-governmental agency which handles such cases. “For instance, in Karnataka it’s called Zonal Coordination Committee of Karnataka for transplantation (ZCCK) and certain hospitals and doctors are members of this committee and lists people who need cadaver organs. Whenever donors are available and are declared brain dead, a group of specialists from that hospital conduct two tests and on final clearance from the family, the organ is listed. This information is activated across hospitals and potential receivers are identified and the transplantation is conducted,” he says.
He says anybody below the age of 70 years who is not suffering from problems such as hypertension, diabetes, and HIV among others can become an organ donor. “Interestingly, it has been seen that women fare much better than men when it comes to organ donation. If the total number of donation is calculated, it can be seen that almost 80 per cent donors are women and 80 per cent receivers are men,” he says.
Dr Neelam Mohan, Director, Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Liver Transplantation, Medanta Medicity Gurgaon says, “In the next five years, there is going to be a huge change in organ donations. The biggest factor to ensure it is to promote cadaveric donations.” She says people stop themselves from donating owing to several myths.
“Some people believe that the body would be cut up from top to bottom, or that it belongs to god and not to us. All these disbeliefs refrain people from being donor participants,” she says.