It took all of four days for doctors at Fortis hospital to retrieve the kidneys and liver from a 27-year-old brain dead patient.
The Goregaon resident had suffered a stroke. He was declared brain-dead on September 2 and was on life-support, with no hope of recovery. Counsellors convinced the patient's family to donate his organs. Four doctors then had to certify him as brain-dead.
The organs could not be retrieved at Criticare Hospital, because it's not registered as a transplant centre with the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC). The patient was shifted to Fortis Hospital, where his organs were retrieved, finally, on September 5.
"Imagine the plight of the family, which had lost a young member, agreed to shift him from Andheri to Mulund while he was on life support, and go through two sets of tests to confirm brain death. All of this, apart from trips to DN Nagar police station," says Neelam Choudhankar, transplant co-ordinator, Fortis Hospital.
The state has announced it will allow nursing homes and other medical institutions not registered with the ZTCC to conduct transplants and retrieve organs, but is yet to issue a government resolution about this. The proposal covers medical institutions with more than 25 beds and intensive care unit facilities.
"We had three brain-dead patients whose relatives agreed to donate organs, but refused when we said the patient had to be shifted to another hospital for retrieval," said Dr Anil Suchak, medical director, Suchak Hospital, Malad, which is not registered with the ZTCC.
"Nobody wants a nearly dead patient to be shifted, unless they are really committed to donating an organ," said Dr Umesh Khanna, chairperson of Mumbai Kidney Foundation, which works with renal failure patients.
It takes 12-18 hours for a family to accept brain-death and consent for organ donation. The organs themselves can function without the brain for 36-72 hours at most, counsellors say. Also, chances of a patient suffering a heart-attack are higher when they are on life support systems in an ambulance, said Dr Suchak.
In 2008, Tamil Nadu issued a GR allowing non-registered centres to retrieve cadaver organs with assistance of doctors from recognised transplant centres. They have retrieved more than 800 organs from nearly 300 patients since.
Maharashtra has had about 300 organ donations in the past 15 years.
Doctors said nursing homes also need training on how to maintain a brain-dead patient.
"There has to be awareness about the protocol on how to maintain the patient," said Dr S Narayani, facility director, Fortis Hospital.