Deceased Donor Organ Transplantation Programme a huge success in State

When the State government launched its Deceased Donor Organ Transplantation Programme ‘Mrithasanjeevani’ in August last year, perhaps even those who were coordinating the programme at the helm had no idea that the concept of deceased donor organ donation would be taken so much to heart by Keralites.

A year later, the organs transplanted from deceased donors have saved 63 lives in the State – the pace at which the programme has taken off, despite the teething troubles, has been phenomenal.

“When the programme was launched, our feeling was that much of our efforts would have to be concentrated on creating awareness on deceased organ donation and that persuading families at their time of grief to donate the organs of their loved ones would be the biggest hurdle before us. But the concept has sunk in so well in the State that families themselves are initiating the question of organ donation. Our focus should now be on perfecting the logistics for enabling the easy retrieval and transplant of organs across the State,” says Noble Gracious, the State coordinator for Mrithasanjeevani.

In the past one year, under the aegis of the Kerala Network for Organ Sharing (KNOS), the coordinating body for Mrithasanjeevani, 28 deceased organ donations took place, 11 of which were from hospitals which are not part of the network of transplant registered hospitals or Non Transplant Organ Retrieval Centres.

The programme made possible 51 kidney donations, 15 livers and three heart donations from deceased donors.

Today, 556 patients are registered under KNOS, waiting for deceased organs to save their lives. The primary demand is for kidneys, with 488 renal patients on the waiting list. Sixty patients are waiting for livers, 6 waiting for hearts and 2 for lungs.

One of the most crucial elements in the success of the programme has been the high levels of transparency and accountability that it has been able to maintain, through its on-line portal and registry of patients on the waiting list for transplant. There are clear rules guiding the allocation of organs to patients and none is allowed to jump the queue.

There are still certain logistics and administrative hurdles to be settled by the government so that there is no time lag in organ retrieval and transplantation.

Lack of manpower and resources to maintain brain-dead patients in hospital ICUs – especially in hospitals which are not registered organ retrieval centres – is among the issues that have come to surface in recent times. The rule is that once the family of the brain-dead patient gives consent for organ donation, it is the responsibility of the hospital to bear all expenses for maintaining the patient till the harvesting is completed. This issue of maintenance expense of hospitals should be settled by the government or else, many hospitals will be reluctant to certify brain death in their ICUs. “There are certain unavoidable delays and some logistic problems which could happen in the most advanced countries with well-established organ transplant systems,” a senior Health official pointed out.

More In: Kerala | National