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Organ Donation Day: Sharing, saving lives even in death

Organ donation has risen by more than three times over the past six months in Delhi, giving new hope to patients with organ failures. The trend can be attributed to better coordination between authorities.

delhi Updated: Aug 06, 2015 09:54 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Organ Donation Day
The Delhi Traffic Police are facilitating the transplants by creating green corridors for ambulances that transport organs between hospitals. (Sonu Mehta/ HT File Photo)

Organ donation has risen by more than three times over the past six months in Delhi, giving new hope to patients with organ failures. The trend can be attributed to better coordination between authorities.

The Delhi Traffic Police are facilitating the transplants by creating green corridors for ambulances that transport organs between hospitals.

According to the MOHAN Foundation, an NGO that promotes organ donation in India, till July this year, 21 cadavers of people declared brain dead were donated in Delhi, compared to 15 in 2014.

Organs that cannot be transplanted at a particular hospital are now sent to other places. With an active heart transplant programme, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) received hearts for transplantation from Apollo Hospital in Sarita Vihar and Max Super Specialty Hospital in July. Hospitals such as Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) in Vasant Kunj transplanted livers donated by the families of people who died in Jaipur and Lucknow.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) got its 11th cadaver donation on Monday.

“We transplanted the liver and kidneys in our patients suffering from end-stage liver and kidney failure, and preserved their corneas. The heart unfortunately was not suited for a transplant. The numbers are really picking up,” said Dr MC Misra, director, AIIMS.

Traffic Impetus

The Delhi Traffic Police are playing a significant role in facilitating the transplants by creating green corridors for ambulances that transport organs between hospitals. The department ensures smooth and quicker movement of ambulances from the airport to the hospitals in case the organ is coming from another state.

This ensures the organs are ‘viable’ — healthy enough for transplantation — as almost all have to be transplanted within three-six hours.

Muktesh Chander, special commissioner of police (traffic), has created eight green corridors for the smooth transfer of organs to hospitals where surgeries were scheduled to be performed. Of the eight corridors, four are inter-state — from Haryana, Rajasthan and UP.

The cause is close to Chander’s heart not only because of his association with the traffic police but also because his brother received a kidney from an altruistic stranger. “The cause of organ donation is very close to my heart and I have been associated with it for many years now. When we cleared a green corridor from Gurgaon to Delhi for the first time, I was tense but I knew deep down that this will be the most satisfying operation I will head in my entire career,” he says.

On any given day, there are more than 10,000 patients in India in need of an organ for transplant, out of which more than 50% don’t have a matching donor within the family.

Growing need

“The numbers of transplantations done in Delhi are still miniscule when compared to southern states, but we are on the right track,” says Dr Anupam Sibal, paediatric hepatologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, where more than 2,200 liver transplants have been done.

“For instance, about a year ago, the thought of cadaveric transplant seemed unrealistic. Now at least when we are putting a patient on waiting list we are hopeful to get an organ,” Sibal said.

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Improved coordination has taken the number of cadaveric liver transplants at ILBS from six in three years (2012-14) to 11 till July this year alone. “Of the 11 transplants done so far, four organs came from other states. It is an encouraging trend and reflects increasing awareness because it wouldn’t have been possible if people weren’t willing to donate,” said Dr SK Sarin, director, ILBS.

“Also, we must give it to the team effort of the government, the hospitals and doctors that has become stronger and is leading to positive results,” Dr Sarin added.

Agrees Pallavi Kumar, executive director (Delhi-NCR), MOHAN Foundation, “The infrastructure is better geared now for organ transplantation.”

“There’s change in people’s attitude. Now we see more apologetic nos as compared to aggressive nos earlier,” adds Kumar.