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Just 1% donate organs

The AIIMS trauma centre got 300 brain dead cases last year. But only 3 families agreed to donate organs. Rhythma Kaul reports.

delhi Updated: Oct 07, 2008 23:57 IST
Rhythma Kaul

On average, the Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) receives one brain dead patient every day. But it’s a rare family indeed that agrees to donate the deceased’s organs. In the last one year, since the trauma centre became fully functional, it has received almost 300 such cases. But only three families have agreed to donate the organs so far.

Blame it on ignorance, emotional irrationality or even religious faith, but that is the sad fact. So many organs that could have been retrieved and used to give a better life to numerous others in need go waste.

Doctors at the trauma centre agree that the number of organ donors at present is disheartening but express helplessness on the issue.

“We do need to make an improvement in this area. The number of organ donors should be much more than what it is at the moment. And the sad part is that if a family refuses to donate the organs, we can’t do anything about it,” says Dr M.C. Misra, a senior surgeon and chief of the trauma centre.

The team of doctors who counsel family members as soon as they figure out that a patient may not survive, have observed in most cases that it becomes difficult for the family members to take a rational decision during their time of grief.

“Most of them are not in a state in which they can understand what we are telling them,” says a senior doctor. The emotional attachment towards the dead family member also prevents many from signing the donation papers.

“They don’t realise it’s the best way to see their family member come to life once again,” says the doctor. Also, there are some communities in which people have religious reasons against donating the organs of the dead.

“We do come across people who believe that if a patient’s organs are donated, he or she would not find a place in heaven,” the doctor adds.

Such is the level of ignorance among the masses that doctors at AIIMS have decided to run a public awareness campaign in the form of workshops where those families will be invited to talk which have given consent for organ donation in the past.

“Talks are on with Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation (ORBO) of AIIMS to conduct a workshop where the families who agreed to donate organs can talk about their experience, and how it is going to benefit millions of others in need,” Dr Misra says.