Credible move

The Tamil Nadu government deserves applause for setting up of a Cadaver Transplant Authority (CTA). Such a body can be expected to improve co-ordination between various stakeholders, contributing to the streamlining of the organ transplantation process.

 The CTA will function under the Tamil Nadu health department and although it will oversee the transplantation process, decision making on fiscal and administrative issues will be decentralised.  Time, which is extremely crucial to the success of an organ transplantation process, will not be wasted waiting either for information to flow or decisions to be made. Tamil Nadu has been the trailblazer in organ transplants in the country, carrying out the largest number of transplants annually. The role played by NGOs such as the Multiple Organ Harvesting Aid Network in facilitating cadaver transplants is significant. Besides creating public awareness about the need for cadaver transplant, they co-ordinate the process between hospitals. This effort resulted in Tamil Nadu registering an organ donor rate of 1.2 per million people - 15 times the national average. The setting up of a CTA will build on this success.Once notorious for its illegal organ transplant trade, Tamil Nadu has emerged as the state with the best cadaver transplant programme.
 In fact, in 2012, almost half of all organs harvested from cadavers in India were from Tamil Nadu. Government support enabled this. Other states need to draw lessons, inspiration and ideas from Tamil Nadu’s experience. The state is now developing its organ registry into a regional registry, a move that will benefit other southern states. This effort needs to be expanded into a national organ donation registry. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has promised to set up such a registry. He must act to make it a reality soon.

Lack of public awareness about cadaver transplants and their benefits is the single largest obstacle in the way of organ transplants. People are reluctant to permit harvesting of the body of a brain dead kin for organs as they are unwilling to accept that s/he is, for all practical purposes, dead. Many believe that the last rites on a body must be performed only with all organs intact.  A campaign to dispel doubts about cadaver transplants is urgently needed. People need to be made aware that harvesting organs from a single body can provide at least seven people with a new lease of life. Grief counsellors and religious leaders should be drawn in as motivators.

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