Karnataka's free organ tansplant scheme underutilised

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A year since the Kumaraswamy government's Free Organ Transplant Scheme was launched to which Rs 30 crore was allocated in the budget, only Rs 1.10 crore has been utilised.

Under the scheme, nine kidney transplants and four heart transplants have been done but no liver transplants have been done.

The scheme which was launched in January also covers the cost of immunosuppressants post-transplant. The reasons for this underutilisation range from lack of awareness to lack of a matching organ donor. While the Institute of Nephro Urology, the only government hospital in the state capable of doing kidney transplants was chosen for the scheme, Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences was supposed to perform heart transplants and PMSSY Hospital was supposed to do a liver transplant. 

Dr CN Manjunath, Director, Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, said, "Six patients who were enrolled under the scheme succumbed to their disease while waiting for a matching donor. Families of brain dead patients are reluctant to donate the heart. That is a major challenge." Manjunath said the hospital's 700 beds are always full and since the government institute does the country's highest number of angioplasties, it had no dearth of BPL heart patients visiting it.

The cost of heart transplant under the scheme is Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 lakh per year for immunosuppressants. 

Dr Keshavamurthy R, Director, Institute of Nephro Urology, said, "There will be six more kidney transplants done this month. All patients who come to our institute are informed of the scheme. We have done the highest utilisation of the scheme. We also have the experience of running Kidney Suraksha Yojana under which 207 transplants were done and offered free immunosuppressants."

The total cost of kidney transplant under the scheme is Rs 3 lakh that includes Rs 1 lakh per year for immunosuppressants. 

While patients have to first approach government hospitals for a live donor transplant, they can approach either government or private hospitals empanelled under the scheme for a cadaveric donor transplant and wait for their turn as per the single seniority list of Jeevasarthakathe, the state's cadaveric organ transplant authority.

Dr Nagesh NS, HOD, Surgical Gastroenterology, PMSSY Hospital, said that since its department was in the process of becoming a separate institute, it wasn't taking up any liver transplants from Jeevasarthakathe and will be able to do so with the necessary infrastructure by February next year. "Since it's been only a year, not many patients no about it either. We did not get any live donor cases though," he told DH. 

Free organ transplant scheme:

No. of kidney transplants: 9

No. of heart transplants: 4

No. of liver transplants: 0

Cost of kidney transplant: Rs 3 lakh (includes Rs 1 lakh worth immunosuppressants per year)

Cost of liver transplant: Rs 12 lakh

Cost of heart transplant: Rs 11 lakh

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