~ By Dr Anvay Mulay, Head of Cardiac Transplant Team & Dr Rakesh Rai, Senior Consultant HPB & Transplant Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Mulund
Countries like Spain, France and Austria, to name a few, consider the ‘opt-out’ method when it comes to organ donation. The system imitates the notion that the organs of a brain dead person, considered national treasure, are harvested by default. If a person does not wish to donate his organs upon brain death, he plainly ‘opts-out’ of the system. This concept along with other factors have seen increased donation rate in these countries. In India however, the ‘opt-in’ system is considered; family consent is of utmost importance.
Annually, over 2.5lakh deaths in India are attributed to organ failure. The country sees over 2lakh patients who register for Kidney transplants out which 8,000 receive them. Over 60, 000 people are in need of heart transplants, around 85,000 liver patients may need Liver transplant. Hard-pressed for donors, patients succumb while waiting. Organ transplant is the only permanent option and cure for those who are suffering from end-stage organ failure. Thus organ donation is the need of the hour to save these patients lives. There are lots of myths surrounding organ donation. Fears arise in the mind of family members that the body of the loved one might be mutilated, tamed by religious aspects and so on. These psychological barriers hamper the circumstances, leading to wastage of organs. There is a huge gap in the donor-recipient ratio in such cases.
Organ transplant requirements are met either through live donations or cadaveric donations. Live donations are those when for example a single Kidney, part of the Liver is donated by a living person to a person who is need of these organs. Yes, apart from blood relatives, others can donate their organs too, all while still living. A cadaver donor is when a person is declared brain dead in an ICU; his Heart, both Kidneys, Liver, Pancreas, lungs can be retrieved which can be used to enrich the lives of many. It is indeed magical that one donor can save up to 8 lives!
According to Dr. Anvay Mulay, Head of Cardiac Transplant Team, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, “When it comes to organ donation, there is a set process; brain death declaration being the primary and most important step. Hospitals and institutions should train critical care doctors, ICU heads, Nursing Home heads etc. to identify brain death cases so that healthy organs can be retrieved, harvested, transported and transplanted to awaiting recipients efficiently. This will greatly bring down organ wastage”. A network involving many stakeholders including hospitals, transplant surgeons, state medical officers, governing bodies and many others, continues to work towards the greater cause which is indeed setting up a tighter system to improve the condition of organ donation in the country.
The ratio still remains skewed. Dr Rakesh Rai, Senior Consultant, Hepato-Pancreatic-Biliary & Transplant Surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, expresses, “We need to come together as a society and address the situation; those who have witnessed the phenomena of change that organ donation brings are now vocal about the cause which is heartening to see. Families of donors play a vital role, for showing courage in the toughest of times. The recipients also become great endorses who promote the cause with self-stories”.
To dispel any thoughts of disagreement, families are counseled when apprehensive about myths which might hamper judgments. The cause is real and the situation is grave, as a society it is up to us to ensure that there is ‘more to give’ and thus bridge the gap by helping those in need.