The government’s plan to increase cadaver organ donations has not received an enthusiastic response from hospitals.
Four months ago, the state government issued a notification that allowed hospitals to be recognised as ‘non-transplant organ retrieval centres’. These hospitals don’t perform organ transplants, but can identify brain dead patients whose organs can be transplanted elsewhere. However, just 83 hospitals in the state have applied for the status.
Of these, 32 are from Mumbai, including seven private hospitals. The remaining are government- and corporation-run hospitals.
Immediately after Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh died before he could have a liver transplant at Global Hospital, Chennai in September, the state health department issued notification to allow hospitals with an intensive care unit and an operation theatre to identify brain dead patients and facilitate organ retrievals, which could be used in hospitals that do conduct organ transplants.
According to the notifications, these centres, after getting permission from the family of the brain dead patient, can retrieve the patient’s organs by informing the local Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC). The committee then allocates the organs to a recognised transplant centre.
“The unnecessary delay in granting the organ retrieval status to hospitals indicates apathy on the part of government officials. Hospitals have nothing to gain from it, so they are unlikely to apply for a license to harvest cadavers,” said Dr Bharat Shah, Narmada Kidney Foundation, a not-for-profit.
Experts in the field of organ donation said all hospitals that fulfil the infrastructure requirement should be automatically registered instead. At present, 97 hospitals in the state of which 27 are from the city can both identify brain dead patients and perform transplants.
“ It takes effort to maintain a brain dead patient. Smaller hospitals with limited ICU beds worry more about the bed being occupied. But hospitals need to understand the larger cause,” said Dr Gustad Daver, president, ZTCC.