Thousands of people die every year due to failure of organs like liver, heart, kidneys etc. Though medical advances have paved the way for organ transplant in patients who suffer organ failure, availability of organ donors remains a particular concern in India.
Awareness about organ donation is limited. Hence once a person is confronted with a hugely traumatic event of death of a near relative he is so overwhelmed by the tragedy that creating space for a organ donation in that state of mind becomes difficult. If he has been previously exposed to organ donation at a more neutral state of mind and its immense life saving potential for someone literally on the edge of survival he will be more receptive. Awareness about organ donation is seriously lacking on the following fronts in the general population.
- Lack of awareness about deceased organ donation.
- Lack of awareness about the concept of brain death.
- Lack of awareness about the process of organ transplantation
According to Dr Alan Almeida, Consultant Nephrologist and Transplant Physician, P D Hinduja Hospital, Mumabi – “The gap between supply and demand varies with the organ. Approximately two lakh ESRD patients await transplant. Only 4000 of them would receive one. The number of patients that await liver and heart transplant would show a similar supply gap. An overwhelming majority of the liver and kidney transplants performed in India are from living donors. The deceased donor transplant numbers are probably less than 10-20%.”
The figures put spotlight on the condition of organ donation system in India. Unlike western countries, India neither has enough deceased donors, nor has a comprehensive system to ensure willing donors are put in touch with needy patients in time. Lack of awareness about donation, deficiency of understanding about brain death, paucity of transplant coordinators, myths and an overall absence of policy priority to organ donation are factors that pose challenge to the organ donation mechanism in India.
According to Dr M M Bahadur, Senior Nephrologist and Tx Physician, Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai- “about 90,000 kidney transplants per year required in India. 10,000 kidneys are required in Maharashtra alone. Compare this to the 1000 odd transplants largely live related, few cadaveric that actually happen in the state.”
On the national scene, in order to meet all organ requirements, we probably need more than 12,000 organ donations every year, whereas about 250 organ donations currently happen every year. In the USA, with less population than India, about 8,000 cadaveric organ donations happen every year leading to about 28,000 transplants annually. In Mumbai, about 35 – 40 organ donations happen every year while about 200 patients with ESLD and 2500 patients with ESRD are listed for liver and kidney transplant respectively with ZTCC (Zonal transplant coordination committee).