Driving licence will indicate that a person is willing to donate organs

You may be keen on donating your organs, but may not be aware of the process of organ pledging. Lack of awareness has resulted in just about 1,000 people pledging their organs in the last four years.

With road accidents being the major cause of most untimely deaths in Karnataka, the State Transport Department has come up with a novel initiative of facilitating organ pledging at the time of issuing driving licence.

After hectic parleys with various departments and non-governmental organisation Gift Your Organ Foundation, the department decided to set the campaign rolling on a pilot basis from July 23 at the Electronic City Regional Transport Office here, according to Transport and Road Safety Commissioner T. Sham Bhatt. Subsequently the campaign would be extended across the State, Mr. Bhatt told The Hindu.

Joint Commissioner for Transport L. Hemanth Kumar, who pushed the initiative at various levels in the government, said the pledging process was voluntary. Every aspirant for a driving licence would be given a pledge form and asked to make a choice. If the applicant wished to pledge, a green sticker, displaying “Organ Donor” in Kannada and English, along with a green heart with ribbons, would be pasted on the licence.

The department had collaborated with the State Health and Family Welfare and Zonal Coordination Committee of Karnataka (ZCCK) for Organ Transplantation, he said.

Committee Secretary D. Ramesh, who along with Sameer Dua, Founder of the NGO, got the initiative rolling in coordination with top health officials, said this was an important step towards promoting organ donation.

“Of the 815 persons enrolled with ZCCK seeking organs, 690 are waiting for kidney and 82 for liver,” Dr. Ramesh said. From its inception till date, the organisation had coordinated 38 organ donations, of which eight were during this year.

Mr. Kumar said the abysmally low response to pledging got him to involve the department.

“A pledge, however, does not automatically authorise the government to harvest organs upon untimely/ brain death of the donor. Consent of the family members is mandatory even as representatives from ZCCK will counsel them about organ donation,” he said.

Mr. Dua said the initiative was popular in the West and expressed the hope that it would sensitise people here too.

“In January alone, there were 1,13,952 applicants for driving licence, either applying for fresh ones or for renewals. Even if half of them choose to pledge their organs, the number of pledges in one month will be 55 times that of the number of pledges received by ZCCK over the last four years.”

G.K. Venkatesh, who heads the State Authorisation Committee for Organ Transplants, said the initiative was a welcome move in creating awareness and popularising the concept of organ donation. He expressed concern that lack of awareness and delay by hospitals in certifying brain death were affecting cadaveric organ transplants.