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Organ Shortage Continues: Urgent Need for Increased Donations

India’s Organ Shortage Crisis: Bridging the Gap for Saving Lives

Source: The Hindu

Introduction: The Urgent Need for Organ Donations

India is facing a severe shortage of organs for transplantation, leading to a long waiting list of over three lakh patients desperately hoping for an organ donor. Unfortunately, the number of donors, especially deceased donors, has not kept up with the increasing demand, resulting in at least 20 people losing their lives every day while waiting for a life-saving organ. This shortage of organs, especially deceased donations, has become a pressing issue that demands immediate attention and action.

Deceased Organ Donation: The Need for a Paradigm Shift

India’s deceased organ donation rate has been languishing below one donor per million population for a decade. To address this critical shortage, the country needs to strive for 65 donations per million population. Several factors contribute to this shortage, and experts emphasize the importance of focusing on deceased organ donation to bridge the gap between demand and supply. Key areas for improvement include:

  1. Public Sector Healthcare Involvement: Leveraging India’s vast network of medical colleges and AIIMS to encourage deceased organ donations through sensitization and active participation.
  2. Learning from Global Models: Taking inspiration from countries like Spain and the U.S., which have successful organ donation systems with a higher number of donations per million population.
  3. Training Healthcare Professionals: Empowering trauma and ICU doctors to support patients’ families in making informed decisions about organ donation.

Disparities in Kidney Transplants

India faces a significant disparity between the demand and supply of kidney transplants. With an annual need for 2,00,000 kidney transplants, the actual number of transplants performed each year is a mere 10,000, leaving a substantial gap. Deceased donors play a crucial role in meeting this demand, especially when suitable living donors are not available. The demand for deceased donors is evident from the fact that around 70%-75% of donors are females, with wives, mothers, and sisters emerging as the primary sources of donation.

Transforming Organ Donation Pledges into Action

While the Health Ministry has taken steps to promote organ donations and remove barriers, such as the domicile rule, age bar for registration of recipients, and fee for transplant registration, there is still a long way to go. The focus should be on translating organ donation pledges into actual donations. Key measures for this transformation include:

  1. Educating Medical Staff: Providing comprehensive training to medical staff to recognize, identify, inform, and counsel families about brain death and the significance of organ donation.
  2. Addressing the Demand-Supply Gap: Implementing effective strategies to reduce the disparity between organ demand and supply, particularly in deceased organ donation.

One Donor, Multiple Lives Saved

One deceased organ donor can save up to eight lives and significantly impact the lives of others through tissue donation. The importance of organ donation cannot be overstated, as it can be the difference between life and death for numerous individuals awaiting transplantation.

Inspiring Acts of Compassion

India is witnessing a growing awareness about organ donation, leading to more families coming forward for this noble cause. The case of a 14-year-old boy from Haridwar highlights the positive impact of organ donation:

  • Despite facing severe injuries, the boy’s family chose to honor his childhood wish of donating his organs and saving other lives.
  • The boy’s heart, corneas, kidneys, liver, and lungs were donated to six individuals, granting them a second chance at life.

Regional Disparities and Success Stories

Data from the Health Ministry shows that certain regions have shown higher engagement in organ donation. Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Maharashtra have reported the highest number of deceased organ donors, while Delhi-NCR, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, and West Bengal have reported the highest number of living donors. Tamil Nadu and Telangana stand out for conducting the most deceased donor transplants.

Conclusion: Collaborative Efforts for a Better Future

The shortage of organs for transplantation is a critical issue that demands collective efforts and a change in perspective. India urgently needs to increase its deceased organ donation rate and bridge the gap between demand and supply. By fostering greater awareness, educating medical staff, and encouraging public sector healthcare to actively participate, we can save numerous lives and ensure a brighter future for those awaiting organ transplantation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Organ Donation in India

1. What is organ donation?
Organ donation is the process of voluntarily giving one’s organs or tissues to be used for transplantation to save the lives of patients with end-stage organ failure or improve their quality of life.

2. How does organ transplantation help patients?
Organ transplantation can be life-saving for patients suffering from end-stage organ failure. It allows them to receive a healthy organ from a deceased or living donor, enabling them to lead healthier and longer lives.

3. What organs can be donated?
Several organs can be donated for transplantation, including the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, and intestines. Tissues like corneas, skin, bones, tendons, and heart valves can also be donated.

4. What is the difference between living and deceased organ donation?
Living organ donation involves donating organs while the donor is alive, typically kidney or liver. Deceased organ donation occurs after a person’s death, where organs are retrieved from a brain-dead individual or a circulatory death donor.

5. How can I become an organ donor?
You can become an organ donor by registering your consent with the appropriate organ donation registry or authorities in your country. In India, you can register through the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) or State Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (SOTTO).

6. Can anyone be an organ donor?
Most people can become organ donors regardless of age, race, or medical history. Even individuals with certain medical conditions may still be eligible for organ donation. Each case is evaluated individually based on medical criteria.

7. Is organ donation safe for the donor?
Yes, organ donation is generally safe for living donors. Medical professionals thoroughly assess the donor’s health before the transplant to ensure they can safely donate without compromising their well-being.

8. Can family members donate organs to each other?
Yes, family members can be living organ donors to each other, such as parents, siblings, or children. This is called living-related organ donation and is commonly done for kidney and liver transplants.

9. Are there any costs involved in organ donation?
In deceased organ donation, there are typically no costs to the donor’s family. The costs associated with the retrieval and transplantation process are covered by the recipient’s insurance or the transplant center. In living organ donation, the recipient’s insurance usually covers the donor’s medical expenses.

10. How does deceased organ donation work?
Deceased organ donation occurs when a person is declared brain dead or their heart stops beating irreversibly. Organ procurement organizations coordinate the process of organ retrieval, preservation, and transportation to suitable recipients.

11. How can I spread awareness about organ donation?
You can help raise awareness about organ donation by talking to your family and friends about its importance, sharing information on social media, and participating in awareness campaigns organized by NGOs and healthcare institutions.

12. What can be done to improve organ donation rates in India?
To improve organ donation rates in India, various measures can be taken, including:

  • Increasing public awareness about organ donation through education and campaigns
  • Ensuring better coordination among hospitals and organ procurement organizations
  • Training healthcare professionals to identify potential donors and approach families for consent
  • Simplifying the registration process and making it easily accessible to the public
  • Removing misconceptions and myths about organ donation through targeted communication strategies.
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