Inspired by celebrities, organ donations record a significant increase in rural Karnataka

As per the records of Jeevana Sarthakathe, the donations of organs had dropped drastically during the pandemic.
Four corneal blind patients received eyesight, thanks to Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar, who’s eyes were donated soon after his demise. (PTI)
Four corneal blind patients received eyesight, thanks to Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar, who’s eyes were donated soon after his demise. (PTI)
Updated on Nov 03, 2021 12:42 AM IST
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By, Bengaluru

Convincing people of rural Karnataka, especially in north Karnataka, to donate organs has been a difficult task for officials over the decades. Thanks to celebrities who have come forward to pledge and donate their organs, the number of donors have increased in recent years, especially in smaller towns and villages.

On August 20, 19-year-old Mahesh Revanasiddappa, a resident of Laad Mugali village of Kalburgi in north Karnataka, fell from the upper floor of the building and was declared brain dead. In the following days, his family’s decision to donate his organs gave a new life to four people. His liver was given to a 24-year-old, two kidneys went to two men aged 37 and 39 years while his corneas were donated to a person as well.

According to officials of Jeevana Sarthakathe, the nodal agency for organ donations in the state, this was the third organ donation from Chirayu hospital in Kalburgi in two years, which according to them is an important sign. “For years, the number of organ donations from small cities has been very minimal, but this trend is changing. Small cities are coming up for organ donations,” said Lijamol Joseph, chief transplant coordinator for the state.

One of the reasons for the increased awareness among the rural population has been celebrities pledging and donating their organs. “There is a big change in attitude. Earlier, we had to sit with families and convince them, but now they are coming forward to offer organs once they realize the medical condition of the family members,” said Joseph.

She added the family of actor Sanchari Vijay coming forward to donate his organs has had a big impact. 38-year-old Vijay was declared brain dead on June 15, after he met with a motorcycle accident. “The decision of the actor’s family to come forward to offer his organs had made the headlines and this has helped spread the message among the rural areas, Joseph added.

“The news (of actor’s organ donation) has traveled to the rural parts, and we see more people talking about it. This is a good sign. We are happy with how things are changing but as much awareness about organ donation is needed,” she said.

Similarly, four corneal blind patients received eyesight, thanks to Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar. The actor’s eyes were donated on Friday afternoon soon after his demise. Doctors who extracted the eyes said that due to the lockdown, there has been a big reduction in the number of donations, and the actor’s gesture is expected to increase the numbers. The actor’s eyes were donated on Friday afternoon in keeping with his father’s promise.

As of August, there are 5,056 patients listed for organ transplants. Out of this, 3,756 patients require kidneys, followed by 1,084 patients who need liver transplantation. There is a requirement for 113 heart transplants, 48 lung transplants and there are 22 patients who require both heart and lungs.

As per the records of Jeevana Sarthakathe, the donations of organs had dropped drastically during the pandemic. While the state saw 105 donations in 2019, this number dropped to 35 in 2020. The increase in the number of donations in 2021 is however giving hope. Until August 2021, the number of donations has already gone past the numbers in 2020. Officials believe that if the number of donations could surpass the numbers in 2019.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Arun Dev is an Assistant Editor with the Karnataka bureau of Hindustan Times. A journalist for over 10 years, he has written extensively on crime and politics.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022