Close to 1,000 patients, suffering from acute liver failure, have been waiting for donors for several months at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Lack of cadaver organ donations, in which the organ is taken out from brain-dead patients, ensures that a new name is added to that waiting list every 10 minutes.
In an attempt to fulfil this need, AIIMS is training its staff to approach potential donors and facilitate donations. “We have our employees and volunteers who approach families and counsel them. We are teaching our nurses and ICU staff to approach families and ask them for organs. Most people refuse because they do not trust the system,” said Dr Sandeep Guleria, an organ transplant surgeon at AIIMS.
But doctors are optimistic. Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, the first hospital in South Asia to complete 100 liver transplants, is one reason for the optimism. “Although we have had only five cadaver donations so far, it is a start. In case of liver transplant, we have pioneered a complex procedure like living donor liver transplant. We give incentives to organ donors and constantly counsel families to donate organs,” said BK Rao, chairman of the board of management of the hospital.
SGRH’s liver transplant programme started in 2001 and so far 101 patients have been treated. Of these 58 transplants were performed in 2006. “We have operated upon eight Pakistanis and eight Myanmarese so far. We get the maximum number of foreign patients from these two countries. We get 2-3 cases a week now,” said A.S. Soin, the leading liver transplant surgeon of the hospital.
To tackle the need for organ donation, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals have launched the Apollo Transplant Centre. “Our goal is to ensure that no person in this country dies for want of an organ or a donor. Donors are the real heroes and we must encourage every one to pledge their organs,” said Dr Anupam Sibal, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.
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Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation (ORBO) helpline: 1060