'Jeeva Sarthakathe' cell awaits govt approval

The District Wenlock Hospital in Mangaluru.

After Bengaluru, Hubballi and Kalaburagi, ‘Jeeva Sarthakathe’, the organ donation facilitation cell replacing the Zonal Coordination Committee of Karnataka for Transplantation, is all set to function from the District Wenlock Hospital in Mangaluru.

Wenlock Hospital Superintendent and District Surgeon Dr Rajeshwari Devi told DH, “The team to run ‘Jeeva Sarthakathe’ has already been trained. We are awaiting the licence on issuing brain death certification from the government”.

With 20% of 1,000 deaths annually being brain-dead cases, Wenlock Hospital gets the highest number of potential brain-dead cases, she said.

Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, who conducted a cadaver or organ transplantation operation in Karnataka for the first time in 1988, said, “The organ donation facilitation cell in the hospital will benefit not less than 1,000 patients every year (One organ donor can save five to eight lives)”.

Dr Ballal, who is also the chairman of Manipal Hospitals, welcomed the government’s decision to set up four different zones to promote a sustained deceased donor (cadaver) transplantation programme in the state. At present, 95% patients on the waiting list are dying a painful death due to lack of awareness on organ donation and transplantation among both public and medical fraternity, he said.

Dr Ballal also revealed that many donor families have vowed to never donate organs again due to the present system which does not respect the act of organ donation.

Though Karnataka started ahead of Tamil Nadu in implementing the deceased donor transplantation, the latter (with 1,211 donors) has completely outpaced the former (422 donors from 2005 to 2018).   

Like Tamil Nadu, the Karnataka government needs to promote organ transplantation and increase the pool of deceased donors.

“We would not have had a waiting list (see box) if organs were harvested from a fraction of motor accidental deaths. Even a 25-bed institution with an operation theatre and ICU serves as a retrieval centre in Tamil Nadu. Postmortem and other procedures have been simplified there,” Dr Ballal said.

The way forward for Karnataka is to ensure effective coordination of departments to see that much time is not lost. “The organs harvested should be allocated on first come first serve basis,” Dr Ballal stressed.

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