India faces the lowest rate of organ donation worldwide, with a mere 0.1 per cent of the population donating their organs after death, in sharp contrast to 70-80 per cent of people in European countries who pledge to do so.
Despite notable progress in the field of organ transplantation, India continues to grapple with a significant demand-supply gap, with a dismal donation rate of 0.86 per million people.
India loses around 2 lakh kidneys and other vital organs annually, underscoring the need for collective efforts to increase cadaver donations. If we properly harvest even 5-10 per cent of all brain deaths for organ donation, it could render the need for living donors obsolete.
Tragically, lakhs of lives are lost every year due to the non- availability of organs. Approximately two lakh people succumbing to liver disease and thousands of patients due to heart disease.
It is to be noted that only the kidney and liver can be transplanted from a living donor. Patients who need heart, lungs, pancreas and intestine transplant can only hope for a match from a deceased donation.
Some of the reasons behind poor organ donation are lack of medical infrastructure. This is especially in public sector hospitals. Moreover, misinformation, lack of public awareness, religious beliefs and strict laws aid to aid.
MULTI- PRONGED STRATEGY
A multi-pronged strategy is needed to fulfil the potential of organ donation in India. It has to involve both government and private hospitals. Students and staff in all medical institutions ought to be primed towards organ transplantation. Organ donation should be part of MBBS and postgraduate curricula. Departments of organ donation need to be set up in select medical colleges.
Essentially, we need to focus on cadaveric donation, a generous act of donating organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and pancreas, from individuals who are declared brain-dead. The transplantation of these vital organs has the potential to save up to nine lives. It is imperative for India to actively promote and streamline the process of cadaveric donations.
BRIDGING THE DEMAND-SUPPLY GAP AND SAVE COUNTLESS LIVES
There is a need to ensure uniformity in declaration of brain death with mandatory reporting and accountability. A hub-and-spoke model has been suggested with the setting up of organ retrieval centres in medical colleges and trauma centres feeding transplant centres. Teams of intensivists, neurologists, counsellors and ICU staff should be trained in identifying potential donors and end-of-life care. Uniform treatment guidelines are needed to maintain cadaveric donors once consent is given for donation.
The views expressed here are of the author)