Dr. Avnish Seth Head of Manipal Hospital, Dwarka’s newly launched Manipal Organ Sharing & Transplant, HCMCT Manipal Hospitals said on Tuesday that despite India’s status of conducting the highest number of transplant surgeries, the procedure is inaccessible to the masses. During the launch of the new organ donation department on Tuesday, Dr. Seth told Financial Express.com that most of the transplant surgeries are happening in private hospitals in the country.
“We do an amazing amount of organ transplants which means we have a lot of expertise, a lot of good surgeons, and good infrastructure to pull it off. The issue is that it’s not yet fully available to the common man because most of the transplants are happening in private hospitals. So, it will be wonderful if every state has at least one government hospital which does organ transplants. So that the common man can benefit. I think that is where we need to go,” Dr. (Colonel) Avnish Seth, VSM, Head – Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Manipal Organ Sharing & Transplant, HCMCT Manipal Hospitals told Financial Express.com.
Dr. Seth also pointed out that although there are laws in place for organ donations in the country, there has been an inadequate adoption rate among the state governments.
“Although we have passed the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues act, health is a state subject in our country and so many states have not even adopted the act. So, we find that about 8-10 states are doing all the organ work. So, the figure that you have of about one per million population is actually coming from very few states. So, all of us need to step in. The State governments have to take organ donations on priority and then only it will happen. The third issue is at the hospital level. In every hospital, they should declare brain dead. Every hospital should have the expertise to maintain brain-dead donors and have trained transplant coordinators who can talk to grieving families and make them understand the process. It’s a huge ask but we were zero per million population 10 years ago. We have made a very good beginning and with continued awareness, we will get better,” Dr. Seth told Financial Express.com.
In India, organ donation is regulated by the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994. According to National Organ Transplant Programme (NOTTO), there is a shortage of organs in the country. There is a wide gap between patients who need transplants and the organs that are available in India. An estimated around 1.8 lakh persons suffer from renal failure every year, however, the number of renal transplants done is around 6000 only.
According to the statistics of the government, an estimated 2 lakh patients die of liver failure or liver cancer annually in India, about 10-15 percent of which can be saved with a timely liver transplant. Although Brain Stem death is recognized as a legal death in India under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, organ donation from deceased persons continues to be very poor.
During the event, the doctors and health experts at the Manipal Hospital, Dwarka highlighted that in India there is a need to promote deceased organ donation as donation from living persons cannot take care of the organ requirement of the country.
“The current status of organ donations in India is best spoken about in 2019 because in 2020 and 2021 COVID-19 came in and organ donation and transplantation became almost 25 percent of what it was. If we look at the current status we will have to talk about 2019 that year we did about 14,000 transplants in the country which is the third highest in the world. So, we should be very proud that we are next to only US and China. At the moment, we do 80 percent of the transplants from living donors and 20 percent from deceased donors. We need to increase the number of donations from deceased patients. So, the awareness has to rise and hospital practices have to get better to make it all happen,” Dr. Seth said.
He also informed that the country is quickly going to pre-covid status, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on organ donations and transplants.
On the scope and potential of xenotransplantation in India, Dr. Seth told Financial Express.com that although it’s exciting there are a lot of challenges too.
“Xenotransplantation is very exciting. You can take organs from pigs and put them in humans but it’s very challenging too as there is a need to genetically modify the pigs so that the human body can accept them. We have done xenotransplantation in India too in Guwahati many years ago but it wasn’tsuccessfull and it led to a lot of legal issues. But now people know that if we want to do successful xenotransplantation, then what are the genetic requirements that we will require? In the future, it looks exciting but it’s still a long way to go. I am sure we will see such procedures in two-three decades here too,” Dr. Seth said.
On Tuesday, Manipal Hospital, Dwarka launched its new initiative, Manipal Organ Sharing & Transplant (MOST) to provide support and counselling to families of potential donors with brain death and encourage them to consider organ donation. The new initiative of the hospital was launched in the presence of Dr. Deepa Malik, India’s first woman medalist in the paralympic games and Dr. Rajneesh Sahai, Director, National Organ Transplant Programme (NOTTO).