Organ donations programme shows signs of recovery in Mumbai
Last year, owing to the pandemic, only 30 organ donations had taken place Mumbai. This year, 30 donations have been recorded till October 19
In the first 10 months of the year, Mumbai has matched up the organ donations conducted last year and is likely to record more donations in the last two months. While the numbers are much lower than the pre-pandemic phase, medical experts said that the trend will improve as hospitals have fully resumed non-Covid work.
Organ donations in the city had reached an all-time high of 79 in 2019. The programme was hit badly the following year owing to the pandemic as only 30 donations had taken place in the city. This year, 30 donations have been recorded till October 19.
“After the pandemic hit in 2020, we could resume organ donation work only in June this year,” said Dr SK Mathur, president of the Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre (ZTCC). “As Covid-19 cases went down and intensive care units (ICUs) became available, the donations and transplant began slowly. We hope to do better than last year. We still have two more months to go,” he said.
Non-Covid patients did not visit hospitals either due to the lockdown or amid the fear of the contracting the infection. Doctors said that a large number of deaths happened at home, which also reduced the possibility of organ donations. A detailed protocol was issued by Maharashtra’s Directorate of Health Services (DHS) for hospitals to re-start organ donations and transplants, keeping safety protocol in mind.
“Not just Mumbai, organ donations have slowly picked up across Maharashtra,” said Dr Mathur, adding that 75 donations have been recorded in the state so far, which is the same number that was recorded in the whole of 2020.
Dr Akash Shukla, joint director, Regional Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (ROTTO), said the donations are likely to pick up in the coming days.
“When the Covid-19 cases were raging, a lot of patients could not reach hospitals and the focus of intensivists was on Covid-related work. But with more vaccinations and safety protocol in place, the organ donations will pick up next year,” he said.
Plastic surgeon Dr Nilesh Satbhai from Global Hospital in Parel said more awareness is needed in Maharashtra. Referring to three hand transplant procedures he has carried out this year, Dr Satbhai said that the donors were from Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
“I hope that Maharashtra takes the lead in donations soon,” he said.
Mumbai’s fourth hand transplant patient stable
A 32-year-old accountant based in Pune, who is the latest to undergo a bilateral hand transplant procedure in Mumbai, is now in a stable condition. The patient, Prakash Shelar, had suffered severe electrical burns in 2019, following which his upper and lower limbs had to be amputated. On Saturday evening, Shelar was taken into the operation theatre for the transplant procedure, which concluded early on Sunday. The limbs were donated by the family of a 14-year-boy from Surat who had a chronic kidney disease and was himself waitlisted for a kidney transplant.
Shelar’s hand transplant was the fourth such procedure conducted in Mumbai. “We have been waiting for this procedure for almost a year,” said Shelar’s wife Madhuri, 30. The couple has two children, aged four and two. “He has been determined to be able to do something to earn a living for the future of our children,” she said adding that they had visited Global Hospital a year ago. With the help of doctors, they started a fundraising campaign and have raised nearly ₹20 lakh.
While the cost of the bilateral hand transplant procedure is estimated to be around ₹25 lakh, patients require immunosuppressants throughout their life that cost between ₹2 lakh and ₹3 lakh a year.
“The procedure went well,” said Dr Satbhai, who led the team of doctors who conducted the transplant. “As the donor was a teenager, we were slightly concerned about the mismatch in the size of the hands. However, the donor was tall and the recipient also had a moderate built, so we did not face any problems,” he said.
Hand transplants in Mumbai
August 2020: Train accident victim Monika More, 23, undergoes the transplant at Global Hospital, the first such procedure in Mumbai. The hands were donated by the family of a brain dead patient from Chennai.
August 2021: The second such procedure was conducted at the civic-run KEM Hospital on 21-year-old Rahul Ahirwar from Madhya Pradesh, who had lost both his hands in a power press machine accident. The KEM doctors could transplant only the right hand as Ahirwar developed a problem with the blood vessels on the left side. The hands were donated by a young donor from Mumbai.
Jagdev Singh, 22, from Rajasthan, who became a quadruple amputee due to electrical burns, underwent a bilateral hand transplant at Global Hospital. The hands were donated by the kin of a 52-year-old man who was declared brain dead at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.
Prakash Shelar, 32, a Pune-based accountant who became a quadruple amputee after suffering from electrical burns, underwent a bilateral hand transplant at Global Hospital. The hands were donated by the kin of a 14-year-old boy from Surat.