Have a heart for this noble act

Organ donation day

What could be the reason that people in India lack the will to donate organs?

 One of the major reasons being touted is the lack of awareness, among several others including religious taboos. People are still not educated enough about organ transplantation or organ donation. And many a times even the doctors are hesitant to talk to patients about this noblest act of charity. 

Nishca Arora, a Delhi resident recently faced a similar problem when her family wanted to donate the entire body of their grandmother to a hospital. Recalling the nightmare that her family had gone through, Arora, said, “My nani was 85-years-old. She passed away on July 20 and it was a natural death. As per her will she wanted to donate her entire body to a hospital to use it for their scientific research and development. So, we called the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and informed them so that they could come and take the body. They told us that they would come in four hours, but they never turned up,” says Arora.

Since the body cannot be kept for long without preserving it, the Aroras made frantic phone calls to various people for help and advice. “Finally we got in touch with the AIIMS’ head of anatomy department who to our shock said that they had enough well-preserved bodies, but still if we want to donate they will take the body. As if they were doing some kind of favour to us. Finally we gave the body to the Army Research and Referral Hospital. We didn’t even get the time to mourn over my grandmother’s death, we were only running after officials to ensure her last wish is fulfilled,” Arora rued.

Ankit Gupta, a Delhi-based lawyer spoke to Metrolife about the laws related to organ donation. “In India the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 has not been adopted by the whole country. Broadly, the Act accepts ‘brain dead’ as a form of death and also makes the sale of organs a punishable offence. So now, with the acceptance of brain dead, it has become possible to not only undertake kidney transplants but also other transplants like liver, heart, lungs, and pancreas.”

“The relatives who are allowed to donate organs, include mother, father, brothers, sisters, son, daughter, and spouse. Recently, grandparents also have been included in the list of first relatives. Also, the kin who is in lawful possession of the dead body should sign the declaration/authorisation as per Form 6 and submit to the hospital for allowing the transplant from the dead body,” added Gupta.

Now doctors who are conducting a transplant surgery also needs to have a proper qualification. For instance for kidney transplant, the practitioner should be an MS (Gen) Surgery or equivalent qualification with three years post-MS training in a recognised transplant centre in India or abroad, and having attended adequate number of renal transplants as an active member of a team. 

Similarly, for cornea transplant the medical practitioner should be an MD/MS ophthalmology or equivalent qualification with one year post MD/MS training in a recognised hospital carrying out corneal transplant operations. 

Dr Saumitra Rawat, chairman and head, department of Surgical Gastroenterology and Liver Transplant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, “Unlike south India, people are still hesitant in northern India when it comes to cadaver donation. Myths, lack of awareness and lack of government initiatives are to be blamed for this sad state of affairs.”

“In our hospital, we have so far carried out nearly 800 liver transplant operations and the success rate is nearly 95 per cent. All we need is a little support by the State Government and a bit of education on this sector,” added Dr Rawat.Given the need of the hour, Ankit Chopal, a 23-year-old businessman said he had pledged his organs two weeks back. “Initially I thought only of donating my eyes, but after a lot of research I decided to pledge all my vital organs. 

After looking at me, even my parents have pledged their organs and we all carry a pledge card.”

The same is the case with Tanvi Sharma, who is a marketing head in a medical device company. “I got myself registered a week back under the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital for my organ donation. This decision was long pending and finally with my family’s support I did it.”

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