On the 7th Indian Organ Donation Day, HT caught hold of Dr Ashish Sharma, head, department of renal transplant surgery, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). He talked about the ever increasing gap of organ recipients and donors, the need to amend laws, and urges the private sector to share the load by accepting organ donations.
What is the status of organ transplants in PGIMER?
We are doing nearly 250 kidney transplants per year and out of these 20% are cadaveric (dead body) donations. Ten years ago, we used to do one cadaveric donation per year and today the number has increased to 26. Then, we have done seven pancreas transplants in the last two years. Across the country, less than 40 pancreas transplants have been done.
Why the number of pancreas transplants is so less in the country?
Pancreas is one of the most difficult organs to be transplanted. It has got very stringent limits like the donor should be 10-50 years of age. Secondly, if any step goes wrong during the transplant, the patient will end up having infections.
When did PGIMER started doing kidney transplants and how many such transplants have been performed?
In 1973, first kidney transplant was done in PGIMER and so far, about 3,400 kidney transplants have been done.
What is the waiting time of kidney transplant patients in PGI?
The average waiting time for those who need cadaveric organ donors is about four years. At present, over 1,200 kidney failure patients are in waiting list. Every year 33% of these patients die in the want of the organ.
Why PGIMER started accepting cardiac death donors?
For six months there were no brain dead organ donations in the PGIMER and we were wondering what to do. Suddenly, a patient had a cardiac arrest and since we were really pressed hard, we thought that we should give it a go. The patient was operated in January 2014 and he is doing great.
Was it the first cardiac death donation and is PGIMER the first institute to accept these donations?
No, we first tried in 2012, but the results were not good and yes, PGIMER is the first institute in the country to start accepting donation after cardiac death (DCD). The PGI has so far received seven received cardiac death donors.
Laws do not permit removing life support system from patients who are not going to survive. Do you think laws need to be changed?
This is the biggest hindrance for organ donation. In June, the government had asked for suggestions and we have already submitted our suggestion but they have not responded.
What about the infection rate after organ transplant?
Infection is a problem everywhere. Our infection rate is very low, which is between 5% and 15%.
What are your plans for the department?
The immediate plan is to strengthen the department, as we are short of people. The sanctioned strength is of five faculties, but we are only three. Also, we are aiming to start M.Ch (supecialistion course) in renal transplant surgery. PGI will become first institute in the country to start such a supecialistion course in transplant.
Do you have any message for this day?
In North of Delhi, PGIMER is the only centre which accepts organ donations. No other hospital is participation in it, which is very sad. In private sector, there is every facility, so the government needs to ask why organ donation is not happening there?