World Organ Donation Day 2021: India needs to bolster organ donation as it lags behind Western and Asian countries

As per National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO), around 5 lakh people in India need organ donation every year.

world Organ Donation Day 2021
Only about 25,000 transplants are done annually in case of Corneas against a requirement of 1 lakh. (Image credit: Dr Sanjith Saseedharan)

By Dr Sanjith Saseedharan

World Organ Donation Day significance: With pan -India deceased organ donation rate at 0.34 per million population which is the lowest in the world, India is lagging not only behind western countries like Spain (35.1) and the US (21.9) but also other countries in Asia.

There are enough organs to transplant in India as every person who dies in an accident or naturally becomes a potential donor. Even then, many patients in India cannot find a potential donor. Only 13 of the 36 states and Union Territories contributing to organ donation reveals that donation rates are skewed even among Indian states.

Organ Donation in India

As per National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO), around 5 lakh people in India need organ donation every year. Many patients die because of the lack of availability of donors for transplant. 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant in the country.

The number of renal transplants done is around 6000 only even as annually around 1.8 lakh persons suffer from renal or kidney failure.

About 10% to 15% of an estimated 2 lakh patients who die of Liver failure or Liver Cancer annually in India can be saved with a timely Liver transplant intervention. Only one thousand five hundred liver transplants are performed on an annual basis as against the need to perform about 25 to 30 thousand liver transplants annually in India.

Barely 10 to 15 heart transplants are performed every year in India even as about 50,000 persons suffer from Heart failures on an annual basis.

Only about 25,000 transplants are done annually in case of Corneas against a requirement of 1 lakh.

To provide a system of removal, storage, and transplantation of human organs for treatment and prevention of unethical business dealings in human organs as per a streamlined legal framework for organ donation, the Government of India introduced the Transplantation of Human Organs Act (THOA) in 1994.

Moreover, ‘Brain Stem Death’ is recognized as a legal death in India under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, like many other countries, which has revolutionized the concept of organ donation after death.

Only a few organs/tissues can be donated after natural cardiac death like cornea, bone, skin, and blood vessels whereas almost 37 different organs and tissues can be donated after brain stem death including vital organs like kidneys, heart, liver, and lungs.

World Organ Donation Day 2021: How NOTTO functions

The National Network division of National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) works as an apex body at the national level for networking and coordination to distribute and procure organs and tissues to strengthen the process of organ donation. It also helps maintain a registry of organs and tissue donation and transplantation in the country.

The organization provides assistance to the states in data management, organ transplant surveillance, organ transplant and organ donor registry. About 10,500 pledges have been registered for organ donation until 2016.

Organ Donation from deceased persons

Organ donation from deceased persons continues to be very poor despite a sound regulatory and streamlined legal framework. There lies an urgent need to increase organ donation within the country to save as many lives as possible.
Citizens, healthcare providers and various support organizations need to disseminate awareness and eliminate myths and phobias regarding organ donation. India currently needs a multipronged strategy to promote organ donation.

While there is a law in place, the implementation is not effective. In order to achieve the same, there is a need to streamline procedures to declare brain death and organ allocation, need to have a centralized, transparent, online waiting list system for recipients, increase awareness regarding brain death and encourage more people to accept organ donation and spread awareness on the significance of registering at NOTTO’s organ donation registry.

If India’s donation rates were to be improved to one donation per million deaths, it would save so many lives. The process of pledging is simple. A donor card is issued to a person after due diligence who is willing to donate the organs after his/her death.

This Organ Donation Day let’s pledge to gift life and become a donor.

(The author is Consultant & Head-Critical Care, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim-A Fortis Associate. Views expressed are the author’s own and do not reflect the official policy or position of Financial Express Online)

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