When Sushita Rai (21) was declared brain-dead after a car accident this April, her family decided to donate her organs. But since the Mulund nursing home where she was admitted is not an authorised organ retrieval centre, they had to take Sushita’s body to Parel’s KEM Hospital. Her kidneys, liver and eyes changed the lives of five people.
The Rais were highly motivated. But most families in a similar situation would have not been able to do the same.
Liver transplant specialist Dr Mohammed Rela, who was in Mumbai on Friday, thinks it is time we make it possible for all equipped hospitals to retrieve organs.
“The law that governs transplantation needs to be revised. You should not need to be at a transplant centre to donate organs. All hospitals with Intensive Care Units and specialists should be authorised to retrieve organs,” he said.
Officials from the BMC had floated a proposal to make all civic hospitals organ retrieval centres, but that never happened.
Dr Rela, who has conducted more than 1300 liver transplants in UK and India, also reiterated the need for more cadaver organ donations. “There are 10 to 30 cadaver donations per million population in the West. In India, there are just 0.01 or less donations per million. People need to stop being suspicious and superstitious and donate organs of the deceased,” he said.
An estimated 20,000 liver transplants are required per year in India. But just 200-300 transplants are actually performed because of shortage of cadaver donations.
“Fatty liver disease is becoming very common in India and it is not because of obesity. Here, people have fatty liver due to obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise. I have also seen many patients who have developed liver cancer because of fatty liver and therefore need transplants,” said Dr Rela, who is attached to Global Hospitals.