Zee Media Bureau/Udita Madan
New Delhi: Organ donation is a term not unheard of. Ever since the first organ donation took place in 1954 when a living donor gave a kidney to his identical twin and the first successful kidney transplant was performed, organ donation became a ground breaking phenomena in medical science. The practice never looked back and rose gradually but steadily among the masses.
Being an organ donor can make a big difference, and not just to one person. However, even though live organ donation gained momentum, medical science made another splash with cadaver organ donation which, simply put, means an organ transplanted after its owner’s death. This process however, didn't go down too well with the masses mainly on emotional grounds and superstitions engraved in their religious and karmic beliefs.
Cadaver organ donation, it seemed, was slowly paving its path towards precariousness. Awareness regarding the same increasingly became a matter of concern for practitioners in the field of medicine and science, especially in Third World nations like ours. A country with a population of over 1 billion people, India struggled with the enforcement of a cadaveric donation programme and failed to make an epochal impact.
Organ transplantation has been one of the superlative advances of modern science that has resulted in many patients acquiring a renewed lease of life with cadaver organ donation fast developing into a major treatment protocol. Since the passing of the legislation in India entitled, 'Transplantation of Human Organ (THO) Act' in 1994, it has been possible to undertake multi-organ transplant activity from brain dead donors. This heralded a brand new era in Indian medicine and awareness for this practice is essential. In India, the 6th day of August is celebrated as Organ Donation Day.
Today, cadaver organ donation has witnessed an unwavering rise in India with 411 cadaver donations in 2014 followed by 21 cadaver donations till July 2015. However, according to an Indian English daily, experts have pointed out that dearth of technology and equipment, infrastructure to transfer organs and the exorbitant cost of the surgical procedure and post-surgery care continue to put a damper on it.
Furthermore, Dr. Avnish Sethi, director, Fortis Organ Retrieval and Transplant was quoted as saying, “Organs cannot be stored. Therefore, there is a need for preparedness and equipment to be able to transplant at the earliest without losing time.” According to Dr. Seth, even as there is more cognizance about organ transplant now, in 2014 around 50 donors were lost across the country because of problems like a fall-back in time, lack of equipment, negligence in preparation, etc.
There is potentially a vast pool of brain-death patients in the country who could not only meet the local demands for organs but may be able to meet the requirements of some of the contiguous countries which sometimes look towards India for their healthcare needs. Despite the many difficulties in the effectuation of this program in India, a foundation has been established and the first hurdle has been crossed.
Education of the general public on the notion of brain death, having more disciplined transplant coordinators and possessing a state based network along with a central network bureau would aid in giving this program the requisite encouragement in the country.