Giving life


Karnataka’s poor performance with regard to cadaver transplants is truly unfortunate. It appears that just 11 cadaver transplants have been performed in the state since the Transplantation of Human Organs Act came into being almost 15 years ago. Organs harvested from a single cadaver can give a fresh lease of life to at least seven people. Yet cadaver transplantation has not received the impetus it deserves either from the government, the medical fraternity or the public. Apathy and lack of awareness is responsible for this sorry state of affairs. Beyond setting up a Zonal Co-ordination Committee of Karnataka (ZCCK) for Transplantation in 2005, the government has done little else to remove procedural obstacles in the way of cadaver transplants. While problems like the kidney racket have necessitated tight rules to ensure that organs are not harvested for sale, still the tedious process in getting police clearance, for instance, needs to be addressed to ease the process of donation. Then there is the apathy of hospital authorities and doctors, which need to be addressed. An important reason for people’s reluctance to donate the organs of their dead kin is religious belief. People want to perform the last rites on the body with all its organs intact.

Karnataka has much to learn from two of its neighbours — Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh — in its approach. Both these states have pursued cadaver transplants energetically. Between October 2008 and mid-March 2009, 60 organs harvested from 22 brain-dead donors gave a fresh lease of life to 59 persons (one person needed two kidneys). Tamil Nadu’s relatively good performance in cadaver transplants has been made possible because of the work of NGOs like Multiple Organ Harvesting Aid Network that have not only created public awareness about what cadaver transplant entails and its benefits but also co-ordinated work between hospitals so that organs available in one hospital can be transplanted in patients in another hospital.

There are powerful vested interests like those engaged in the illegal organ trade , who are opposed to legal cadaver transplants as that cuts into their profits. They must be defeated. There are hundreds of people in Karnataka alone who are waiting for organ transplants. They could receive a fresh lease of life if only the government, the medical fraternity and the public shake off their apathy and act.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry