70% decline in organ donations in Mumbai since March due to Covid-19Updated: Aug 12, 2020 01:20 IST
Organ donations in the city have seen a sharp decline due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Data provided by Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC) indicates a 70% decline in organ donation between March and July as compared to the same period last year.
Two days before Organ Donation Day on August 13, data from ZTCC showed 10 cadaver donors have been registered in the last five months for 29 beneficiaries. Transplants include 14 kidneys, 10 livers, two pancreases and one heart and a small bowel. At present, 3,536 are waiting for kidneys; 350 for livers; 27 for heart; 14 for lungs; 10 for pancreases and three for hands.
In contrast, between March 2019 and July 2019, 33 cadaver donations were recorded in Mumbai of which 59 kidneys, 28 livers, 12 hearts and 6 lungs were retrieved from donors and transplanted to 105 patients across the country.
Since March, Mumbai has recorded an average of two cadaver donations per month, compared to a pre-Covid monthly average of seven donations.
“There are several factors behind this decrease in organ donors. For instance, hospitals have fewer non-Covid-19 critical patients in intensive care units (ICU). Thus, we are getting fewer brain-dead patients who would normally provide organs for donation. Since most people are staying indoors, road accidents have reduced considerably,” said Dr S Mathur, president of ZTCC.
City surgeons said doctors are wary of conducing non-emergency organ transplants, fearing false positive reports for Covid-19 that could risk the life of recipients who are prescribed immunosuppressant treatment after surgery.
“I have witnessed an 80% fall in the number of organ donations. We are conducting organ transplantation only for patients suffering from acute decompensated liver disease as medicinal treatment for the disease is limited. But we are keeping patients with heart and kidney ailments on medication to avoid any possible chances of infection,” said Dr Dr Vijay Surase, senior consultant and interventional cardiologist at Jupiter Hospital, Thane.
Of the 38 hospitals registered for organ transplantation in the city, 13 have refused to conduct surgery during the pandemic, and eight hospitals are still undecided.
ZTCC and Directorate Health Service (DHS) have set up a protocol for hospitals conducting organ transplantation during the Covid-19 outbreak. As per the standard operating procedure (SOP), if the risk of death within six months without organ transplant is more than 50%, the patient should get the benefit of organ transplantation as that is a much higher risk than that of contracting Covid-19.
“First, we will do a background medical, checking on prospective donors to rule out any possible chances of exposure to the virus. Then, through CT scan, we will see if there are any Covid-19-like patches in the lungs. Following which, through confirmatory swab test, we will decide if the donor has Covid-19 infection,” said Dr Mathur.
Hospitals must also completely segregate the zone where an organ transplantation takes place.
A patient with Covid-19 who needs an organ donation has to wait for at least a month before undergoing the procedure. The person will be tested for the infection before being declared fit for transplant.