India needs more organ donations as only 0.01% Indians have given consent to donate their organs after death

About 0.5 million people in India die every year from causes that could have been prevented by organ transplants that were not available to them.

By Raghav Khanna, Amit Bhartia and Yateen Chodnekar

India needs more organ donations as only 0.01% Indians have given consent to donate their organs after their death.

Despite the government identifying the need for organ donation, there is a disparity between huge demand and low supply. Organ donation in India is only just beginning to take off – the reason for the delay being lack of awareness, spiritual belief of life after death, and generally negative attitudes towards organ donation. Donation is encouraged as a charitable act that saves or enhances life; therefore, it requires no action on the part of the religious group.

In 2019, the Government of India implemented the National Organ Transplant Programme with a budget of ₹149.5 crore (US$21 million) for promoting deceased organ donation.

Organ donation is the process of retrieving or procuring an organ legally with the intention of being able to medically help someone in need. Consent is given either by the donor while they’re still alive, or after death by their Next of Kin. First the organ is recovered, or ‘harvested,’ before being transplanted into the recipient in need.

Organ donation in India is regulated by the 1994 Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act. The act aims to control the removal, storage, and transplantation of organs and prevents any commercial dealings, while the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation facilitates procurement, allotment, and distribution of organs within India.

India’s Statistical Data as of 2015 shows that in response to the demand for 1.75 lakhs of kidney transplants, only 5000 transplants were completed. With 50,000 people dying of terminal liver disease, only 1000 got transplants. These statistics are even more distressing in organs like hearts and lungs.

About 0.5 million people in India die every year from causes that could have been prevented by organ transplants that were not available to them. Organ donation rates in India sit at 0.01 percent, a miniscule figure in comparison to countries like Croatia’s which sits at 36.5 percent and Spain’s at 35.3%.

One donation from a deceased donor whose brain gave way before their heart can save lives of up to eight people who are suffering from end stage organ failures. If India’s donation rates were to be improved to one donation per million deaths, it would satisfy the country’s organ requirement completely.

The process of pledging is simple. A donor card is provided to a person who is willing to donate the organs after death. Donor cards are not a legally binding document – it is only an expression of a person’s willingness to be a donor. At the time of organ donation, the family of the patient will make the final decision on whether to donate organs or not. Any person willing to donate his/her organs can do so by filling out the donor consent form available on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India website.

Government of India should undertake the responsibility for establishing proper infrastructure all over India to facilitate speedy transport and harvesting of organs. The official paperwork should be more donor-friendly and convenient.  The NGO’s along with healthcare providers should run their awareness campaigns in a more intensive way, involving print/social and electronic media.

“Without an organ donor, there is no story, no hope, no transplant. But when there is an organ donor, Life springs from Death, Sorrow turns to Hope, and a terrible loss becomes a gift,” says Vaishali Chodnekar, Managing Director, YMC Organ Donation and Transplant Foundation

Donation affects more than the donors and the recipients. It affects their families and friends who benefit from their renewed life and improved health after transplant.

(The authors are Raghav Khanna –  Final year student at Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi, Amit Bhartia – Partner at GMO Fund, Singapore and Yateen Chodnekar – Founder of YMC Organ Donation and Transplant, Mumbai. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult health experts and medical professionals before starting any therapy or medication. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)


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