Drugs, tests cost organ recipients a fortune

Drugs, tests cost organ recipients a fortune

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Even as the state government has enthusiastically started the organ transplantation scheme for the poor, uncertainty looms over their post-transplant care.

The scheme, which provides for the transplantation cost of BPL patients, also offers Rs one lakh towards post-transplant drugs or immunosuppressors. This amount barely suffices the recipient for a few months, explain experts. However, the immunosuppressors are prescribed to the patient life long. 

Dr Sankaran Sundar, a city-based transplant specialist, said, "These expenses vary based on factors like the patient's weight and age. Patients spend Rs 30,000 a month on an average for the first two years. The cost could be higher if the patient develops complications."

He said over the years, this could come down to Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 a month. "Unlike others, transplant survivors cannot afford to skip medicines even for a day. Immunosuppressors keep the body from fighting the transplanted organ as a foreign body," he said.

For BPL cardholders, Rs 3 lakh for a kidney transplant, including the cost for drugs, is provided under the state's scheme for an organ transplant. However, this does not suffice.

Dr Keshavamurthy, director, Institute of Nephrourology, Victoria Hospital, said the hospital has sought approval to provide Rs 10,000 a month per patient. However, the period up to which it will be provided by the government has not been specified.

Sources in the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust told DH that the scheme only covers medicines for one year. "We will send a proposal to the government, seeking an extension and additional funds for providing immunosuppressors as this has to be taken by patients all life," said the source.

Nagesh (name changed) was diagnosed with a chronic kidney condition and underwent a transplant.

Doctors informed his family that they had to spend Rs 30,000 a month for medications and regular blood tests post-transplant. With Nagesh being the only breadwinner, the family has been struggling to make ends meet.

Transplant survivors take immunosuppressors for life, besides having to undergo blood examination every month. This expenditure has been forcing patients to approach NGOs and seek help from donors.

With no private insurance to cover or government schemes to help, patients' families have been looking for donations to meet the high cost of post-transplant care.

COSTLY CARE

Govt aid for transplant (BPL patients only), including for post-transplant drugs (kidney transplant) - Rs 3 lakh

Patient spending (first 2 yrs) - Rs 25,000-Rs 30,000 a month

Life-long costs - Rs 2,000-Rs 10,000 a month

Cost of blood tests - Rs 2,000-Rs 10,000 a month